Resource allocation and storage relative to resprouting ability in wind disturbed coastal forest trees

E Nzunda, Megan E Griffiths, Michael Lawes

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Many plants persist by resprouting after disturbance. However, the benefits of resprouting (survival) may be traded off against height growth and reproduction. Resources (total non-structural carbohydrates-TNC) that could be allocated to growth or reproduction are stored or mobilised to support resprouting. TNC may either be stored by accumulation where availability exceeds the requirements for growth, or by reserve formation when storage is at the expense of growth. Thus, the mechanism of storage and resource allocation may differ between good (R+) and poor (R-) resprouters in response to nutrient availability and disturbance regime. R+ species typically reserve resources to ensure a rapid resprouting response to disturbance. We test whether R+ and R- species in coastal forest, under chronic wind disturbance, differ in growth rates, biomass allocation, leaf traits, water relations and storage of TNC. Seedlings from three confamilial pairs of R+ and R- tree species were subjected to nitrogen addition, water stress and clipping (simulating herbivory) treatments under greenhouse conditions. R- species had greater height growth rates, larger specific leaf area, lower root mass ratio and lower root TNC than R+ species. These differences between R+ and R- species were maintained irrespective of the levels of nitrogen, water and clipping treatments. R+ species did not increase their TNC concentration under nutrient and water stress, indicating that TNC is stored by reserve formation. R+ species appeared to trade-off growth against storage, while R- species did not. In R+ species, reserve formation is likely a bet-hedging strategy against occasional strong selection events in addition to chronic wind stress. By trading off height growth for better resprouting ability, good resprouters may be able to persist at more frequently disturbed sites (e.g., dune crests and windward slopes), while poor resprouters that have faster height growth can dominate less disturbed sites. � 2014 Springer International Publishing Switzerland.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)735-749
    Number of pages15
    JournalEvolutionary Ecology
    Issue number4
    Early online date28 Mar 2014
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2014


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