, Volume 93, Issue 3, pp 336–342

Reproductive allocation strategies in desert and Mediterranean populations of annual plants grown with and without water stress

  • J. Aronson
  • J. Kigel
  • A. Shmida
Original Papers

DOI: 10.1007/BF00317875

Cite this article as:
Aronson, J., Kigel, J. & Shmida, A. Oecologia (1993) 93: 336. doi:10.1007/BF00317875


Reproductive effort (relative allocation of biomass to diaspore production) was compared in matched pairs of Mediterranean and desert populations of three unrelated annual species, Erucaria hispanica (L.) Druce, Bromus fasciculatus C. Presl. and Brachypodium distachyon (L.) Beauv., grown under high and low levels of water availability in a common-environment experiment. Desert populations in all three species showed higher reproductive effort than corresponding Mediterranean populations, as expressed by both a reproductive index (RI= reproductive biomass/vegetative biomass), and a reproductive efficiency index (REI=number of diaspores/total plant biomass). Moreover, in E. hispanica and Brachypodium distachyon, inter-populational differences in reproductive effort were greater under water stress, the main limiting factor for plant growth in the desert. These results indicate that variability in reproductive effort in response to drought is a critical and dynamic component of life history strategies in annual species in heterogeneous, unpredictable xeric environments. When subjected to water stress the Mediterranean populations of E. hispanica and B. distachyon showed greater plasticity (e.g. had a greater reduction) in reproductive effort than the desert populations, while in Bromus fasciculatus both populations showed similar amounts of plasticity.

Key words

AnnualsDesertMediterraneanReproductive effortPlasticity

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Aronson
    • 1
  • J. Kigel
    • 2
  • A. Shmida
    • 3
  1. 1.Centre L. EmbergerCNRSMontpellierFrance
  2. 2.Department of Agricultural BotanyThe Hebrew University of JerusalemRehovotIsrael
  3. 3.Department of BotanyThe Hebrew University of JerusalemJerusalemIsrael