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Edaphically distinct habitats shape the crown architecture of Lychnophora ericoides Mart. (Asteraceae) on tropical mountaintops

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Different architectural arrangements may represent contrasting morphological solutions to different environmental pressures. This work aims to elucidate whether the crown architecture of Lychnophora ericoides (Asteraceae) modifies in response to harsh soil conditions (nutrient poor and heavy metal rich) and how its crown architecture affects its reproduction. One hundred and sixty L. ericoides individuals were randomly sampled from eight populations, four on quartzite and four on iron canga rocky complexes in the Iron Quadrangle, southeastern Brazil. We performed soil analyses to characterize edaphic differences and used eight morphometric parameters to describe the crown architecture of the plants. We calculated the population density and reproductive potential to verify the relationship between habitat, architecture, and fitness. Canga soils were more nutrient rich than quartzite soils and plants were architecturally distinct in each habitat. Plants established on canga soils were shorter, had a thinner main branch, and a smaller leaf than those established on quartzite soils. Moreover, plants on canga soils had a larger crown diameter and a greater number of branches and inflorescences. There was no difference in population density but the reproductive potential varied among populations and habitats. The crown architecture of L. ericoides closely relates to reproductive potential and may favor the reproduction of more architectonically complex plants, regardless of habitat.

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The authors thank the Capes Foundation, Ministry of Education of Brazil, for awarding the Master’s degree scholarship to the first author; the Department of Transport (UFOP) for logistical support in the field; the Forest State Institute of Minas Gerais (IEF) for allowing this study at the Itacolomi, Ouro Branco, and Rola-Moça State Parks as well as at the Moeda Natural Monument; the Samarco mining and the National Steel Company for allowing this study on their private land; Dr. Maria Cristina Teixeira Braga Messias for providing the results of ten soil analyses from the Samarco mining sampling area; and Núbia Ribeiro Campos for illustrating the architectural morphotypes of the plants and Carolina Souza Sarno for creating the sampling map.

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Correspondence to Amauri Pires Bueno.

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Communicated by Kun-Fang Cao.

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Bueno, A.P., Ribeiro, S.P., Antunes, D.S. et al. Edaphically distinct habitats shape the crown architecture of Lychnophora ericoides Mart. (Asteraceae) on tropical mountaintops. Plant Ecol 218, 773–784 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11258-017-0728-8

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  • Harsh habitats
  • Rocky complexes
  • Soil adaptation
  • Plant architecture
  • Reproductive potential