Pollen limitation and synchronous mast-seeding in a perennial wildflower

Friday Seminar

By Elizabeth E. Crone.



Synchronous, episodic seed production, often known as mast-seeding, is a common phenomenon in plant populations.  Many studies have demonstrated ultimate fitness advantages of synchronous seed production, such as predator satiation and increased pollination efficiency.  Few have investigated the proximate, ecological or physiological, mechanisms that cause plants to produce seeds synchronously and periodically.

In this talk, I explore mechanisms of mast seeding in a long-lived perennial wildflower, Astragalus scaphoides.  In high flowering years, plants are less pollen limited and less susceptible to seed predation.  We were unable to find simple weather or climate cues for high-flowering years.  Instead, alternate-year flowering reflects nonlinear dynamics of stored resources in individual plants, synchronized by density dependent pollen limitation (“pollen coupling” sensu Satake and Iwasa 1999).  I present mathematical and experimental evidence for pollen coupling in Astragalus scaphoides, then briefly discuss implications of pollen coupling for studies of resource allocation and mast-seeding in plants, and synchronous fluctuations in plant and animal populations.

About Elizabeth E. Crone

Permanent position:
Associate Professor, Wildlife Biology Program
University of Montana, Missoula MT USA

2007-2008 academic year:
Metapopulation Research Group, Dept. of Biological & Environmental Sciences
University of Helsinki, Helsinki Finland

Other information
The CEES seminar room has a coffee-machine – it is therefore recommended that you come a bit earlier and get yourself a good cup of coffee (for the price of 3 NOK).

Published Feb. 6, 2012 1:11 PM - Last modified Mar. 8, 2021 10:00 AM