, Volume 66, Issue 3, pp 394-403

Differential costs of sexual and vegetative reproduction in wild strawberry populations

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The CO2 costs of producing sexual and vegetative reproductive propagules were calculated for two species of wild strawberry, Fragaria virginiana and F. vesca. Five populations on sites representing a gradient of successional regrowth near Ithaca, New York, USA, were studied for two or three years each. Field studies of phenology, biomass, demography, and environment and laboratory studies of CO2 exchange were integrated using a computerbased model of CO2 dynamics to estimate costs of propagules.

The percentage of plants flowering and the number of flower buds produced were highest in an open, recently disturbed habitat and lowest in a forest habitat. The openhabitat plants had the greatest success in converting flower buds into ripe fruits and also produced the highest numbers of runners and runner plantlets. On the basis of total investments in structure and respiration minus any photosynthetic gain of all reproductive structures, the cost per seed was lowest in the most open habitats and highest and increasingly variable in the more closed habitats. The cost of plantlets also was lowest in the most open habitat. The differences among habitats in cost of plantlets alive after one or two growing seasons increased due to differential survivorship of plantlets, with the open habitat continuing to have the lowest cost per plantlet. Theoretical treatments of life history characteristics such as reproductive effort should recognize that costs of equivalent type and size of propagule may vary among environments.