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Patterns of flowering and sex-ratio variation in the Mediterranean shrub Phillyrea angustifolia (Oleaceae): implications for the maintenance of males with hermaphrodites

Authors


John R. Pannell E-mail: john.pannell@plants.ox.ac.uk

Abstract

The Mediterranean shrub Phillyrea angustifolia is one of the few plants that display androdioecy, a rare breeding system in which males co-occur with hermaphrodites. However, it has been difficult to account for male frequencies previously documented for this species, which have frequently been higher than 0.5. Here we present sex-ratio data from 13 sites in Spain and Portugal that throw further light on the maintenance of androdioecy in P. angustifolia. The inferred proportion of males in these populations was around 0.3, substantially lower that 0.5 and concurring with theoretical predictions for androdioecy. Differences in the proportion of hermaphrodites in flower between “stressed” and “nonstressed” sites suggest the existence of an important life-history trade-off between fruit production and the rate at which plants recover from recurrent disturbances such as fire. The reduced frequency of flowering by hermaphrodites relative to males may help to explain the maintenance of androdioecy in this long-lived, woody species.

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