NCEAS Project 12349

Addressing a long-standing paradox: How do dioecious plant species persist?

  • Simon A. Queenborough

ActivityDatesFurther Information
Postdoctoral Fellow20th January 2010—31st August 2011Participant List  

Breeding system impacts on the ecology and evolution of coexisting plant species. Perhaps the best example of such impacts is exemplified by dioecious plant species (those with separate male and female individuals), populations of which suffer a fitness cost because of the lower number of seed-bearing stems relative to ecologically similar hermaphroditic species. To maintain per capita growth rates that are equal to their hermaphroditic counterparts, female individuals in dioecious populations must exhibit one or more fitness advantages, which might include: higher fecundity, higher rates of offspring recruitment, earlier ages of reproduction, more frequent reproduction, or higher quality offspring. The fitness advantages predicted to have evolved in dioecious species have remained elusive because of inadequate data and a failure to fully integrate phylogeny and dynamic demographic and distribution data with other species functional traits. This study will use a newly developed functional-trait database of plant reproductive traits and recently-available rigorously collected spatially-explicit plant demographic data on >6,000 species and >3,000,000 individuals to examine the associations among breeding systems, demography and functional traits in a phylogenetically informed way in order to seek evidence for fitness advantages in dioecious taxa.

TypeProducts of NCEAS Research
Journal Article Bai, Xuejiao; Queenborough, Simon A.; Wang, Xugao; Zhang, Jian; Li, Buhang; Yuan, Zuoqiang; Xing, Dingliang; Lin, Fei; Hao, Zhanqing. 2012. Effects of local biotic neighbors and habitat heterogeneity on tree and shrub seedling survival in an old-growth temperate forest. Oecologia. Vol: 170. Pages 755-765. (Online version)
Journal Article Gao, Jiang-Yun; Queenborough, Simon A.; Chai, J. P. 2012. Flowering sex ratios and spatial distribution of dioecious trees in a south-east Asian seasonal tropical forest. Journal of Tropical Forest Science. Vol: 24(4). Pages 517-527.
Journal Article Queenborough, Simon A.; Comita, Liza S. 2011. Should ecological science be ethical?. Union Seminary Quarterly Review. Vol: 63. Pages 18-25.