• clonal growth;
  • genetic correlation;
  • life history;
  • size-number relations;
  • trade-off;
  • Potentilla


A negative, genetic correlation between the total number and average size of progeny is a classical life-history trade-off that can greatly affect the fitness of organisms in their natural environments. This trade-off has been investigated for animals and for sexually reproducing plants. However, evidence for a genetical size-number trade-off for clonal progeny in plants is still scarce. This study provides experimental evidence for such a trade-off in the stoloniferous herb Potentilla reptans, and it studies phenotypic plasticity to light availability for the involved traits. Genotypes of P. reptans were collected from distinctively different environments, clonally replicated and exposed to high light and to shaded conditions. We found a significant negative correlation between the average size and the total number of offspring across genotypes for both light environments. Shading reduced ramet numbers, but hardly affected average ramet size.