Effects of plant density and nutrient levels on fruit polymorphism in Atriplex sagittata
- Cite this article as:
- Mandák, B. & Pyšek, P. Oecologia (1999) 119: 63. doi:10.1007/s004420050761
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Atriplex sagittata is a heterocarpic species producing three types of fruits which differ in morphology and ecological properties. This study focused on variation in biomass allocation into particular fruit types under different density and fertilization levels. The reduction in total weight under stressful conditions was accompanied by a reduction of reproductive structures in terms of both total fruit production and mean fruit weight. Allocation of biomass to particular fruit types under different density-fertilization treatments showed considerable variation. The non-dormant, bracteolate fruit type (termed C) contributed 80–90% to the total fecundity and its production was not affected by density-fertilization treatments. The production of this fruit type is higher in the upper part of the maternal plant stem. Production of the very dormant ebracteate fruit type (termed A) increased under favourable conditions and was greater on the lower part of the stem, whereas more of the so-called type B fruit (covered by bracteoles and exhibiting dispersal and dormancy characteristics intermediate between types A and C) was produced under suboptimal conditions and was concentrated in the middle part of the plant body. This pattern contradicts to some extent the theory that deeply dormant and less dispersible fruits will be produced under stressful conditions and may be considered a new model for the behaviour of plants with more than two heterocarpic fruits. The type B fruit, intermediate in both morphology and ecological behaviour, provides a continuum between extreme strategies.