Evolutionary Ecology

, Volume 21, Issue 3, pp 395–409 | Cite as

Flowering phenology of Ulex europaeus: ecological consequences of variation within and among populations

  • Michèle Tarayre
  • Gillianne Bowman
  • Agnès Schermann-Legionnet
  • Myriam Barat
  • Anne Atlan
Original Paper


Reproductive phenology of gorse (Ulex europaeus L., Genisteae, Fabaceae) is unusual in that the onset and duration of flowering vary greatly among individuals within populations: some plants initiate flowering in autumn or winter and continue flowering through spring, others initiate flowering in early spring. To understand the origin of this diversity and its ecological consequences, we investigated flowering phenology of randomly sampled individuals from five different natural populations in Brittany (France). Reproductive success was evaluated for individuals with contrasting flowering patterns, from 16 natural populations. Flower production, pod production, seed production and seed predation were estimated. Plants initiating flowering in spring produced larger numbers of flowers and pods over a shorter period than plants flowering from winter to spring, which produced few flowers and pods at a time but over a longer period. Pod production of long-flowering plants did not differ significantly between winter and spring, but their pods were more intensively attacked by seed predators in spring than in winter. We discuss our results in relation to biotic and abiotic parameters. We postulate that long-flowering can be interpreted as a bet-hedging strategy, spreading the risk of pod failure (rotting or freezing) in winter and of seed predation in spring.


Ulex europaeus-Apion ulicis Flowering phenology Asynchrony Seed predation Bet-hedging 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michèle Tarayre
    • 1
  • Gillianne Bowman
    • 2
  • Agnès Schermann-Legionnet
    • 1
  • Myriam Barat
    • 1
  • Anne Atlan
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratoire “ECOBIO”-UMR 6553Université de Rennes 1Rennes CedexFrance
  2. 2.Institut für UmweltwissenschaftenUniversität ZürichZürichSwitzerland

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