Some life history consequences of modular construction in plants.

A. R. Watkinson, J. White

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

118 Scopus citations


Plants grow by the iteration of modular units and as a consequence growth can be described in terms of the population dynamics of these structural units. Changes in size depend on the birth and death rates of modules, but if births continue to exceed deaths, plants have the capability of attaining enormous sizes, especially if they are clonal. Plants of the same age may show large variation in individual size if individuals differ in their relative growth rates. Correlations between age and size are often, therefore, very weak. Constraints on the allocation of resources assumulated during growth have important implications for the reproductive schedules of plants. All the meristems of semelparous plants are involved in or die at reproduction and as a consequence death of the genet follows reproduction. For iteroparous plants, however, there are fundamental differences between the reproductive schedules of plants with a single shoot module and those with many shoot modules. The former demonstrate a relatively constant rate of reproduction from year to year following maturity; the latter show a continual increase in fecundity with size and age. The pattern of mortality is examined at both the level of the module and the genet. -from Authors

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-51
Number of pages21
JournalPhilosophical Transactions - Royal Society of London, Series B
Issue number1159
StatePublished - 1986
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)

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