Variation in generation time in Frasera speciosa (Gentianaceae), a long-lived perennial monocarp
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The perennial monocarp Frasera speciosa (Gentianaceae) flowers at a wide range of sizes and ages with consequent variation in generation time (T), net replacement rate (Ro) and intrinsic rate of increase (r). Values of r were calculated for hypothetical cohorts composed of individuals flowering at the same age. Maximum rates of r are achieved by plants which flower at the earliest possible age. Although older plants produce more flowers, this increase is not sufficient to compensate for the effect of increased T on r. Few plants in each population flower at the youngest possible age, and for the majority reproduction is delayed, generation times are longer and r lower than achieved by plants flowering at younger ages. Delayed reproduction may be favored by greater seed set, due to pollinator attraction to larger flower stalks, as well as broader seed dispersal which could increase the probability of seedling establishment. Delays greater than those observed may be selected against by decreasing probability of survival, a decrease in the rate of addition of flowers with increasing size, and slower transitions between leaf number classes in larger plants. Staggered reproduction by an individual's offspring, whether environmentally or genetically determined, has the effect of insuring survival in an environment with high variability in pollinator effectiveness (see d set), germination, and seedling establishment.
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