Plant growth rates and seed size: a re-evaluation


  • Corresponding Editor: W. P. Carson.


Small-seeded plant species are often reported to have high relative growth rate or RGR. However, because RGR declines as plants grow larger, small-seeded species could achieve higher RGR simply by virtue of their small size. In contrast, size-standardized growth rate or SGR factors out these size effects. Differences in SGR can thus only be due to differences in morphology, allocation, or physiology. We used nonlinear regression to calculate SGR for comparison with RGR for 10 groups of species spanning a wide range of life forms. We found that RGR was negatively correlated with seed mass in nearly all groups, but the relationship between SGR and seed mass was highly variable. We conclude that small-seeded species only sometimes possess additional adaptations for rapid growth over and above their general size advantage.