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Life-history variation in the short-lived herb Rorippa palustris: effect of germination date and injury timing


Life-history variation in annuals is known to be caused by size requirements for photoinduction of flowering, but the importance of germination date and injury was overlooked so far even though they may play an important role in disturbed habitats. To test the effect of germination date and timing of injury on life-history variation of an annual plant, we performed a 2-year pot experiment with the root-sprouting herb Rorippa palustris. Plants belonging to six different cohorts, and sown at monthly intervals from April to September, were injured (all stem parts removed) in three ontogenetic stages: vegetative rosettes, flowering plants and fruiting plants.

Plants from the April, and partly from the May, cohort behaved as summer annuals: they started to bolt at the same time, resprouted and overwintered poorly. Plants from the June cohort flowered in the first season as well, but they entered the bolting stage a month later than the preceding cohorts, produced the least fruits, but overwintered successfully and flowered again the second year (polycarpic perennials). Cohorts germinating after the summer solstice did not flower during the first year and, with the exception of the September cohort, overwintered successfully and flowered the second year (winter annuals). After injury, the pattern of life-histories was the same as in control plants, although generative reproduction was interrupted by injury in the first year of the experiment. About one quarter of␣plants injured in the vegetative stage regenerated after injury irrespective of cohort, however, regeneration was enhanced in larger plants. Regeneration of plants in the flowering and fruiting stages depended on date of injury in relation to day length, being the most successful after the summer solstice.

Life-history variation, together with the ability to resprout after severe injury in the pioneer wetland herb Rorippa palustris is caused by its ability to germinate throughout the season. Even the second tested factor, the effect of injury, is modified by germination time. The experiment points to a complex nature of factors affecting life-history variation as well as resprouting after severe injury in short lived plants.

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We are indebted to J.W. Jongepier for his linguistic help, and to Keith Edwards, Štěpán Janeček and two anonymous reviewers for their useful comments. This study was supported by the Grant Agency of the Czech Republic (grant No. 206/03/H034) and by grant AV 0Z60050516 from the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic.

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Correspondence to Jitka Klimešová.

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Klimešová, J., Sosnová, M. & Martínková, J. Life-history variation in the short-lived herb Rorippa palustris: effect of germination date and injury timing. Plant Ecol 189, 237–246 (2007).

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  • Adventitious buds
  • Bud bank
  • Disturbance
  • Flowering
  • Long-day
  • Wetland