Age changes in the vegetative vs. reproductive allocation by module demographic strategies in a perennial plant
- Cite this article as:
- López, F., Fungairiño, S., de las Heras, P. et al. Plant Ecology (2001) 157: 13. doi:10.1023/A:1014597832475
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Retama sphaerocarpa (L.) Boiss. is aMediterranean shrub with a remarkably simplified metameric structure. Terminalyoungest shoots act as units of modular growth, being able to produce newshootsby basal axillary buds (at the base of the shoot) and inflorescencesby lateral axillary buds. In this study, we have analysed the structural andgrowth potential features of these modules, as well as their‘demographic’ proportions, regarding the allocation of newvegetative and reproductive growth in plants of different age. Reproductiveeffort is proportionally higher in older plants. This shift in the allocationstrategy with plant ontogeny is not attained with changes in the shoot modules(which maintain a constant size, nutrient composition and show a similarnew growth investment per module) but through a different‘demographic’ composition of the ‘population’ ofmodulesaccording to their developmental fate (vegetative or reproductive).This indicates a high level of iterativity and a purely modular growth, sincethe attributes of the individual (age of the plants) do not seem toaffect those of the integrating modular units (growth performance of theshoots).