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Plant growth rates and seed size: a re-evaluation


Abstract

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.

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.

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17 citations in Web of Science®
17 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Uncontrolled Keywords:life-history trade-offs; nonlinear regression; relative growth rate (RGR); size-standardized growth rate (SGR)
Language:English
Date:2012
Deposited On:12 Jul 2012 06:19
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 15:52
Publisher:Ecological Society of America
ISSN:0012-9658
Additional Information:Copyright by the Ecological Society of America
Publisher DOI:10.1890/11-0261.1
Permanent URL: http://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-63163

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