Evolutionary Ecology

, Volume 10, Issue 5, pp 517–530

Reproductive allometry in Malaysian rain forest trees: Biomechanics versus optimal allocation

  • Sean C. Thomas

DOI: 10.1007/BF01237882

Cite this article as:
Thomas, S.C. Evol Ecol (1996) 10: 517. doi:10.1007/BF01237882


Quantitative predictions of reproductive allometry in iteroparous plants may be derived from two bodies of theory: biomechanics and optimal allocation theory. Biomechanical theory predicts allometric scaling exponents between reproductive (R) and vegetative (V) biomass in the range of 0.44–1.33, while very general models of life history evolution predictR–V exponents > 1 in all cases. These predictions are examined in light of allometric patterns of flower and fruit production in 32 species of Malaysian rain forest trees. Among these species the mean estimatedR–V exponents are in the range 1.8–2.0 for staminate flower, pistillate flower and fruit production. This range of exponent values provides unambiguous support for some of the general predictions of optimal allocation models, but not for biomechanical theory. Optimal allocation models also predict a positive relationship between species size andR–V slope and a positive relationship between species size andR–V intercept parameters. The latter, but not the former prediction is supported by the data.R–V allometries in sexes of dioecious species were also found to differ in intercept, though not slope, reflecting smaller sizes at reproductive onset in staminate trees. Further critical examinations of reproductive allometry are encouraged as a relatively unexplored avenue for increasing the contact of theory and data in studies of life history evolution in long-lived organisms such as tropical trees.


allocation allometry biomechanics reproduction tropical trees 

Copyright information

© Chapman & Hall 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sean C. Thomas
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Organismic and Evolutionary BiologyHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA
  2. 2.Division of Ecosystem Science and Conservation, College of Forest ResourcesUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA

Personalised recommendations