New Zealand Journal of Ecology (1998) 22(1): 25- 31

Effect of flowering on vegetative growth and further reproduction in Festuca novae-zelandiae

Research Article
Janice Lord 1,2
  1. Department of Plant and Microbial Sciences, University of Canterbury, Christchurch 1, New Zealand
  2. Present address: Botany Department, University of Otago, P.O. Box 56, Dunedin, New Zealand

Flowering intensity and plant size were monitored in 155 Festuca novae-zelandiae individuals over four years to determine if trade-offs exist between inflorescence production and vegetative growth, and between inflorescence production in different years. Less than half of the population flowered in any one year, 36% of individuals did not flower at all, and only 17% flowered in all four years of the study. Mean number of inflorescences per individual per year varied from 1.54 to 5.53 (maximum = 85). No trade-offs were detected between flowering frequency and intensity; individuals that flowered more frequently also produced more inflorescences in each flowering episode. No trade-off was detected between current and future reproduction, rather flowering intensity was positively correlated between years. Growth, as measured by diameter increment, was positively related to flowering frequency and flowering intensity, both across all individuals studied and within 1m x 1m plots. The presence of a positive relationship between growth and reproduction within plots argues against meso-scale variability in environment factors being the cause of the results from analyses involving all individuals. Clearly reproduction in F. novae-zelandiae does not incur a marked cost in growth or future reproduction. The assumptions underlying theoretical expectations of such trade- offs may not be valid for long-lived clonal plants such as F. novae-zelandiae.