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Keywords:

  • Plant adaptation;
  • plasticity;
  • Xanthium strumarium;
  • reproduction;
  • physiology;
  • phenology;
  • morphology;
  • environmental effects;
  • canonical correlation analysis

Abstract

The reproductive success of sibling cocklebur plants (Compositae: Xanthium strumarium) was monitored after growth at different levels of availability of water and nutrient resources. Variation in reproductive success among individual plants was related to physiological, structural, and phenological characteristics. Reproductive success increased with increased availability of resources, but the relative contribution of particular traits to reproductive success varied with resource availability. Allocation of biomass to different vegetative tissues, time to seedling emergence, degree of branching, transpiration rates, water use efficiency, the rate of decline in height growth after seedling emergence and final plant size all varied significantly with resource availability. However, the changes in each of these phenotypic traits across three garden environments did not always correlate with reproductive success. The shifts across environments in the apparent importance of somatic traits for reproductive success were attributed to plastic changes in the traits but also to changes in the phenotypic correlations of the traits with reproductive success.