Evolutionary Ecology

, Volume 28, Issue 4, pp 735–749 | Cite as

Resource allocation and storage relative to resprouting ability in wind disturbed coastal forest trees

  • Emmanuel F. Nzunda
  • Megan E. Griffiths
  • Michael J. Lawes
Original Paper


Many plants persist by resprouting after disturbance. However, the benefits of resprouting (survival) may be traded off against height growth and reproduction. Resources (total non-structural carbohydrates—TNC) that could be allocated to growth or reproduction are stored or mobilised to support resprouting. TNC may either be stored by accumulation where availability exceeds the requirements for growth, or by reserve formation when storage is at the expense of growth. Thus, the mechanism of storage and resource allocation may differ between good (R+) and poor (R−) resprouters in response to nutrient availability and disturbance regime. R+ species typically reserve resources to ensure a rapid resprouting response to disturbance. We test whether R+ and R− species in coastal forest, under chronic wind disturbance, differ in growth rates, biomass allocation, leaf traits, water relations and storage of TNC. Seedlings from three confamilial pairs of R+ and R− tree species were subjected to nitrogen addition, water stress and clipping (simulating herbivory) treatments under greenhouse conditions. R− species had greater height growth rates, larger specific leaf area, lower root mass ratio and lower root TNC than R+ species. These differences between R+ and R− species were maintained irrespective of the levels of nitrogen, water and clipping treatments. R+ species did not increase their TNC concentration under nutrient and water stress, indicating that TNC is stored by reserve formation. R+ species appeared to trade-off growth against storage, while R− species did not. In R+ species, reserve formation is likely a bet-hedging strategy against occasional strong selection events in addition to chronic wind stress. By trading off height growth for better resprouting ability, good resprouters may be able to persist at more frequently disturbed sites (e.g., dune crests and windward slopes), while poor resprouters that have faster height growth can dominate less disturbed sites.


Aboveground competition Disturbance regime Multistemming Non-structural carbohydrate reserves Persistence niche Regeneration strategies 



Financial support from the National Research Foundation (NRF) of South Africa (Focus area: Conservation and Management of Ecosystems and Biodiversity; GUN:2069339 to MJL), the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Mazda Wildlife Fund is gratefully acknowledged. We thank Zivanai Tsvuura for assistance with the greenhouse work, Colin Southway and Dashny Govender for assistance with chemical analyses, Robyn Wethered and Harriet Eeley for administrative support and Tad Dorosamy, Caroline Rolando, Keith Little, Martin Hampton and Johannes van Staden for providing equipment used in the measurement of some variables. We appreciate the use of the botanical gardens of the School of Biological and Conservation Sciences for conducting the greenhouse experiments and thank Allison Young for her assistance in the gardens. We are grateful to Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife and the iSimangaliso Wetland Park (formerly the Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park) authority for permission to collect seedlings from Cape Vidal.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Emmanuel F. Nzunda
    • 1
    • 2
  • Megan E. Griffiths
    • 1
  • Michael J. Lawes
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Forest Biodiversity Research Unit, School of Biological SciencesUniversity of KwaZulu-NatalScottsvilleSouth Africa
  2. 2.Department of Forest Mensuration and ManagementSokoine University of AgricultureChuo Kikuu, MorogoroTanzania
  3. 3.Research Institute for the Environment and LivelihoodsCharles Darwin UniversityDarwinAustralia

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