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Keywords:

  • alpine;
  • plant size;
  • Ranunculus;
  • reproductive effort;
  • seed production

Abstract The effect of plant size on reproduction in four species of alpine Ranunculus (R. muelleri, R. dissectifolius, R. graniticola and R. niphophilus) was investigated in two sites over two seasons in the field on a total of 190 plants. The effects of plant size (number of leaves) and number of flowers on the number of anthers, ovules and seed per flower and per plant were determined. There was a positive relationship between several measures of reproduction and plant size in all four species, indicating that reproduction is size-dependent. All the results indicate that the main factor controlling the amount of seed produced by alpine Ranunculus is the size of the plant. Specifically, bigger plants produced more seed by producing more flowers, not by producing more ovules per flower, or higher seed set per flower. Correspondingly, bigger plants produced more anthers by producing more flowers, rather than by producing flowers with more anthers. The total number of seeds produced by a plant was directly proportional to plant size in the four species. Therefore, reproductive effort should not vary with plant size in the four species.