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Sexual dimorphism in intra- and interspecific competitive ability of the dioecious herb Mercurialis annua

Sanchez Vilas, Julia, Turner, A. and Pannell, J. R. 2011. Sexual dimorphism in intra- and interspecific competitive ability of the dioecious herb Mercurialis annua. Plant Biology 13 (1) , pp. 218-222. 10.1111/j.1438-8677.2010.00408.x

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Males and females of dioecious plant species often show different responses to competition with individuals of the same or opposite gender, but almost no data are available on the outcome of competition with members of other species. Here, we show that male and female individuals of the wind-pollinated herb Mercurialis annua are sexually dimorphic in both their intraspecific and interspecific competitive abilities. In a controlled experiment, we found that both sexes of M. annua were negatively affected by interspecific competition, but the sensitivity of males and females depended on the identity of their competitor species, with females tending to suppress the aboveground growth of competitor species more than males. Further, we found that intrasexual and intersexual competition affected the aboveground growth of males but not that of females: only males showed a significant reduction in growth when growing with conspecific competitors (male or female). We discuss our results with reference to related studies that suggest that males and females of M. annua have different resource requirements for reproduction, which in turn affect their competitive abilities.

Item Type: Article
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Subjects: Q Science > QK Botany
Uncontrolled Keywords: Interspecific competition; intrasexual competition; resource requirements; sexual dimorphism
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
ISSN: 1435-8603
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 09:00

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