, Volume 214, Issue 6, pp 883-892
Date: 25 May 2013

Seed number and environmental conditions do not explain seed size variability for the invasive herb Lupinus polyphyllus

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Abstract

Intraspecific variation in seed size may result from life-history constraints or environmental conditions experienced. This variation in seed size is likely to affect the early stage of invasion as seed size may contribute to the success or failure of population establishment. However, only a few studies have examined seed size variability and its causes and consequences for invaders so far. Using the invasive herb Lupinus polyphyllus, we estimated seed mass variation within and among 39 populations from two different geographic regions in a part of the invaded range. We empirically and experimentally evaluated the effect of seed number and environmental conditions (e.g. geographic region, habitat type, intraspecific competition) on seed mass, emergence and seedling performance. Seed mass varied threefold, being largest among individual plants within populations and smallest among populations. Variation in seed mass was neither related to seed number nor the environmental conditions examined, but led to differences in offspring performance, with emergence and seedling size increasing with seed mass. Larger L. polyphyllus seeds were better establishers than smaller seeds regardless of environmental conditions, indicating that the success of L. polyphyllus invasions is likely to depend positively on seed mass. Our results suggest that some plant species such as the invasive L. polyphyllus may not show an adaptive response in seed mass to resources or environmental conditions, which may partly explain their ability to colonise a range of different habitats.