Seed dormancy and delayed flowering in monocarpic plants: selective interactions in a stochastic environment

Am Nat. 2006 Aug;168(2):E53-71. doi: 10.1086/505762. Epub 2006 Jul 10.


We explore the effects of temporal variation in multiple demographic rates on the joint evolution of delayed reproduction and seed dormancy using integral projection models (IPMs). To do this, we extend the standard IPM to include a discrete state variable representing the number of seeds in the seed bank, density-dependent recruitment, and temporal variation in demography. Parameter estimates for Carlina vulgaris and Carduus nutans are obtained from long-term studies. Carlina is relatively long lived and has a short-lived seed bank, whereas most Carduus plants flower in their first year and the seed bank is long lived. Using the evolutionarily stable strategy (ESS) approach, we predict the observed flowering and germination strategies. There is excellent agreement between the predictions and the field observations. The effects of temporal variation on the joint ESS are partitioned into components arising from nonlinear averaging (systematic changes in the mean resulting from the interaction between variability and nonlinearity) and nonequilibrium dynamics (fluctuations in fitness caused by temporal variation). This shows that temporal variation can have substantial effects on the observed flowering and germination strategies and that covariance between demographic processes is important. We extend the models to include spatial population structure and assess the robustness of the results from the nonspatial models.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Asteraceae / growth & development*
  • Asteraceae / physiology
  • Biological Evolution
  • Ecosystem
  • Flowers / growth & development*
  • Flowers / physiology
  • Germination / physiology*
  • Models, Biological
  • Seeds / growth & development*
  • Seeds / physiology
  • Stochastic Processes
  • Time Factors