Regional and local effects on reproductive allocation in epicormic and lignotuberous populations of Banksia menziesii
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Reproductive allocation (RA) is a measure of how resources (biomass, nutrients) are partitioned between reproductive structures and the rest of the plant. For plants that resprout after fire, the percentage of resources allocated to reproduction may vary depending on their resprouting ability. Our study examines the percentage RA (biomass, N, P, K) and nutrient content of current season’s growth in southern (Swan Coastal Plain) epicormic and northern (Eneabba Plain) lignotuberous resprouter populations of Banksia menziesii (Proteaceae), a species endemic to nutrient-impoverished sandplains of southwestern Australia. Within each population, plants along road edges were compared with plants not associated with road edges. There was no difference in total nutrient content of current year’s growth between both resprouting types, except that total K in the shoots of lignotuberous populations was >2 times that in the epicormic populations. Non-road lignotuberous plants allocated twice the biomass, N and P, and 13.5 times the K, to reproduction as non-road epicormic plants. Lignotuberous populations had the highest RA (17–34% of biomass, N, P, K), with non-road epicormic populations the lowest RA (3–15%). This can be viewed as an adaptive (ultimate) response to the poorer postfire survival and recruitment conditions where the lignotuberous populations occur.Total biomass and nutrient content of road-edge plants was 2–3 times that of non-edge plants. Lignotuberous populations in both road positions allocated the same fraction of biomass, N and P to reproduction, whereas road-edge populations allocated 10% less K than non-road. Road-edge epicormic populations allocated 5–10% more biomass, N, P and K to reproduction than non-road populations. This can be viewed as an ecophysiological (proximate) response to the better growing conditions created by the roadways that may also ultimately have an adaptive explanation.
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