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Am J Bot. 2003 Feb;90(2):226-34. doi: 10.3732/ajb.90.2.226.

Female frequency and relative fitness of females and hermaphrodites in gynodioecious Geranium sylvaticum (Geraniaceae).

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Section of Ecology, Department of Biology, University of Turku, FIN-20014 Turku, Finland;


We determined female frequency of 23 populations of the gynodioecious Geranium sylvaticum (Geraniaceae) in Finland. We compared our results to previous results on this species from the 1960s in order to reveal putative changes in female frequencies. Because females may be maintained in gynodioecious populations if their seed production or offspring quality is higher than that of hermaphrodites, we explored reproductive success of females and hermaphrodites in detail in 11 populations for two consecutive years. Female frequencies varied from 0.4 to 27.2%; this variation is similar to that observed in the 1960s. Contrary to previous results that indicated lower seed production in females, females produced 1.2 and 1.7 times more seeds per flower than hermaphrodites in 2000 and 2001, respectively. Females also had higher fruit set than hermaphrodites. Thus, higher seed production of females partly explains the maintenance of gynodioecy in this species. Furthermore, female frequency correlated negatively with relative seed fitness of hermaphrodites suggesting that relative seed fitness is related to population sex ratio. Female frequency and the distance of the population from the most southern population also tended to correlate positively, suggesting that harsher environmental conditions in the north may benefit female plants. Given the observed yearly variation, our results also highlight the importance of temporal variation for the relative seed fitness of females and hermaphrodites.

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