Evidence that the negative relationship between seed mass and relative growth rate is not physiological but linked to species identity: A within-family analysis of Scots pine

Jorge Castro, Peter B. Reich, Ángela Sánchez-Miranda, Juan D. Guerrero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations

Abstract

Seed mass and relative growth rate (RGR) are important determinants of early seedling growth, and hence seedling establishment. Although a positive interspecific relationship between seed mass and seedling dry mass is well established, much less is known about the relationships among seed mass, seedling mass and RGR within species. We examined relationships among seed mass, seedling mass and RGR within and among maternal plant lines of Scots pine (Pinus sylves-tris L.). To assess the effects of seed mass and maternal origin on RGR, individual seeds from two seed crops (years 2004 and 2005) of ten maternal plants growing under nursery conditions were weighed and then germinated. Seed mass was strongly determined by maternal plant, and seedling mass was largely determined by seed mass, with a positive correlation between these variables both across and within maternal plants. In contrast, RGR was weakly related to seed mass, with no consistent pattern in the sign of the relationship. It is well known that species differ in RGR and that RGR is related to seed mass across species. Lack of consistent evidence for this relationship within maternal lines, and for Scots pine overall, suggests that the relationship is not directly causal, but reflects consistent evolutionary covariation in these two physiologically independent traits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1077-1082
Number of pages6
JournalTree physiology
Volume28
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2008

Keywords

  • Maternal effects
  • Pinus sylvestris
  • Seedling growth

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