Gender, light and water effects in carbon isotope discrimination, and growth rates in the dioecious tree Ilex aquifolium
Article first published online: 9 OCT 2008
British Ecological Society, 2000
Volume 14, Issue 5, pages 529–537, October 2000
How to Cite
Retuerto, R., Lema, B. F., Roiloa, S. R. and Obeso, J. R. (2000), Gender, light and water effects in carbon isotope discrimination, and growth rates in the dioecious tree Ilex aquifolium. Functional Ecology, 14: 529–537. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2435.2000.t01-1-00454.x
- Issue published online: 9 OCT 2008
- Article first published online: 9 OCT 2008
- Received 5 October 1999; revised 1 January 2000;accepted 6 February 2000
- Cited By
- Leaf nitrogen content;
- physiological differentiation;
- sexual dimorphism;
- stem growth;
- water-use efficiency
1. Detailed understanding of the specific physiology of sexes in dioecious species is required to explain patterns in gender dimorphism. Under controlled-environment conditions we tested the hypothesis that sexes of the dioecious tree holly Ilex aquifolium L. (Aquifoliaceae) differed in growth and long-term potential water-use efficiency, as measured by carbon isotope discrimination (Δ13C), and that these differences were dependent on the environmental context.
2. Patterns of response in Δ13C to the various combinations of light and water were gender-specific. Under more xeric conditions, females maintained significantly higher Δ13C than males.
3. Female plants exhibited significantly greater relative diameter growth rates than male plants.
4. As expected, Δ13C significantly increased with decreasing irradiance, and decreased with increasing limitation in water supply. Light and water effects were not independent, with a more pronounced drought effect in decreasing leaf Δ13C under unshaded than under shaded conditions.
5. Our results suggest that between-sex differences in physiology are context-dependent. Future studies attempting to assess gender dimorphism should take more account of gender-specific interactions with the environment. Gender-specific efficiency in water use could play a decisive role in explaining gender differences in growth and ecological interactions.