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Consequences of Emergence Phenology for Reproductive Success in Ranunculus adoneus (Ranunculaceae)
, Stanton M.L.
American Journal of Botany
, 1991. V. 78. No. 7. P. 978–988
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Botanical Society of America · email@example.com
This study explores the effects of emergence time and reproductive phenology on seed number, seed size, and seedling survival in a population of the alpine buttercup, Ranunculus adoneus. Phenology in this snow bowl population is structured by snow depth. Plants in late melting interior portions of the bowl emerged and flowered 3 to 4 wk after those in early melting zones at the bowl perimeter during the summers of 1988 and 1989. Flowering time differences of buttercups across the bowl were consistent from one year to the next. In 1988, late flowering plants tended to set fewer seeds than early flowering ones; in 1989 no decrease in seed number accompanied flowering date. Path analysis showed that equal fecundity in early and late emerging portions of the bowl population during 1989 resulted from balancing spatial and temporal constraints on seed production. Spatial aspects of habitat quality improved toward the interior of the bowl, but temporal regimes deteriorated in these late melting sites. In both 1988 and 1989 seed size declined with delays in flowering. Path analysis of 1989 data showed that because of reduced time for seed growth, plants in late melting portions of the bowl set smaller seeds than those in earlier melting zones. Differences in seed size due to parental phenology are likely to influence fitness in snow buttercups. Under natural conditions, seedlings from large seeds (≥0.65 mg) have sixfold higher survival than do those from smaller seeds (<0.65 mg). We conclude that seedling recruitment may be infrequent in late-melting portions of the snow bowl due to delayed parental phenology.