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Revista chilena de historia natural

Print version ISSN 0716-078X


OBESO, JOSÉ RAMÓN  and  RETUERTO, RUBÉN. Sexual dimorphism in holly Ilex aquifolium: cost of reproduction, sexual selection or physiological differentiation?. Rev. chil. hist. nat. [online]. 2002, vol.75, n.1, pp.67-77. ISSN 0716-078X.

Three hypotheses were examined in order to explain the existence of sexual size dimorphism in the dioecious tree Ilex aquifolium (Aquifoliaceae): cost of reproduction, sexual selection (pollen competition) and physiological differentiation between sexes. Here we present both published and new experimental and observational results. At flowering, males allocated more in reproduction than females; however at fruiting females allocated about ten times more in terms of carbon and about five times more in terms of nitrogen than males. Both sexes did not differ in leaf dynamics. Branch RGR usually showed greater values in male branches, but the results depended on the ecological context. Tree growth rate, estimated from mean width of annual rings over 10-30 yr, was significantly higher for males. Experimental debbuding in reproductive branches of females accounted for an increase in RGR compared to branches that matured fruits. When competition among males was examined, there were significant differences among male trees in pollen production per flower. The experimental crossing of five males and five females demonstrated strong maternal effects on fecundity, while non significant differences among males were found in their probability of sire progeny. There were some physiological differences between sexes. The efficiency of photosynthesis of leaves (measured as Fv' / Fm') on nonfruiting branches of females was higher than for leaves on branches of male trees under low-light conditions. On the other side, the water-use efficiency, measured by carbon isotope discrimination, was greater in males under xeric conditions. These results are used to discuss the importance of the above mentioned hypothesis

Keywords : carbon isotope discrimination; maternal effects; male competition; photosynthetic efficiency; relative growth rate; reproductive allocation; tree-ring growth.

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