Sexual dimorphism and sex ratios of two Australian dioecious species of alpine pineapple grass, Astelia alpina var. novae-hollandiae and Astelia psychrocharis (Asteliaceae).
MetadataShow full item record
Sexual dimorphism and male biased sex ratios have been predicted for dioecious plants experiencing the limited conditions for growth and reproduction found in many alpine environments. To test these predictions, the reproductive ecology of two congeneric, co-occurring, dioecious, clonal, species was examined in the subalpine and alpine zones of Kosciuszko National Park, southeastern Australia. Specifically, plant size (vegetative cover of plants in quadrats), floral display (number of flowers per inflorescence, number of inflorescences per quadrat) and sex ratios (proportion of females in quadrats with flowers) were examined in ten populations of Astelia psychrocharis (Asteliaceae) and nine populations of Astelia alpina var. novae-hollandiae (Asteliaceae). Sexual dimorphism did occur, with males having more flowers per inflorescence (106% more flowers for A.alpina males and 12% more for A.psychrocharis males compared to females) and more inflorescences per quadrat than females (78% more inflorescences for A.alpina males and 46% more inflorescences for A.psychrocharis males compared to females). Plant size did not differ between male and female quadrats of either species, nor were there male biased sex ratios. However, plant size was related to flowering status in A.psychrocharis with the 65 quadrats that did not flower having lower vegetative cover than the 175 flowering quadrats indicating that there may be a minimum size/ cover required prior to flowering in this species. For A.alpina, all but two of the 185 quadrats randomly sampled flowered. There was no effect of altitude on plant size and very little effect of altitude on floral display for either species, apart from a slight increase in the number of inflorescences per quadrat with increasing altitude for A.psychrocharis, and slight decrease in number of flowers per inflorescence with increasing altitude for A.alpina females.
Nordic Journal of Botany