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Am J Bot. 2001 Apr;88(4):659-66.

Different cost of reproduction for the males and females of the rare dioecious shrub Corema conradii (Empetraceae).

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  • 1Centre d'études nordiques and Département de biologie, Université Laval, Sainte-Foy, Québec, Canada G1K 7P4.


Males and females of dioecious plant species often differ in their reproductive investment. Such differences frequently result in differential demographic costs represented by lower growth, survival, and/or frequency of reproduction, and/or by more variable reproductive effort through time for females. We present the results of a study on Corema conradii, a rare dioecious shrub of the coastal dune heathlands of northeastern North America. We estimated the reproductive investment of both males and females, determined their age structure, and compared their spatial patterns in a population at Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Quebec. We also determined the sex ratio of the four populations known to occur on the islands. Males invested more in reproduction at flowering, but when fruit production was considered, female reproductive investment was higher in terms of biomass, Mg, and Ca, but not in terms of N, P, and K. The age frequency distribution of males and females did not differ significantly from one another. The population dispersion pattern was contagious, with patches of similar-age individuals. There was no spatial segregation between males and females, although the sex ratio varied somewhat spatially. Females did not start reproducing at a later age than males and did not appear to have a shorter longevity. However, the crown and radial growth rates of females were lower than those of males. When estimated by the crown intercept method, the sex ratio of all four populations was male biased. However, because males had a higher crown growth rate, genet sex ratio was in fact balanced. Higher investment in reproduction was associated with a lower growth rate, which represents a differential cost of reproduction according to sex in this species.

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