Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Summary The periodic occurrence of summer/early autumn precipitation in the California annual grassland can result in the formation of early and late emerging cohorts of Erodium botrys and E. brachycarpum. The occurrence of early rainfall and the timing of such rainfall are highly variable from year to year. A series of field watering experiments in 1980–81 were used to simulate early emergence conditions that would result from significant rainfall (1 cm) occurring in mid-July, late August, and mid-September. Net reproduction was used to estimate fitness differentials between Erodium cohorts emerging in response to a watering treatment (early emerging cohorts) and Erodium cohorts emerging with the onset of winter rains in mid-October (late emerging cohorts). Survival was lower and gross reproduction was higher among early emerging cohorts than late emerging cohorts. For both species, net reproduction of the early cohort was lower than that of the late cohort under the July watering treatment and higher than that of the late cohort under the August watering treatment. Early cohorts, formed in response to rainfall in mid-September, 1982, were also compared demographically to later cohorts emerging in October. Compared to late cohorts, net reproduction, gross reproduction and survival were higher for the early cohorts. Common garden experiments indicate that differences in the duration of seed dormancy between the progenies of early and late emerging plants reflect a significant genetic component. Progency produced by early cohorts of E. brachycarpum from all three watering treatments possessed more extended seed dormancy than progeny of late cohorts. In E. botrys, progeny from early cohorts emerging in response to the July watering treatment were also more dormant than late progeny. In contrast, early cohorts of E. botrys emerging in response to the September watering treatment produced seed less dormant than seed produced by late cohorts. When combined with demographic data, indicating that fitness differentials between early and late cohorts varied with changes in the date of early emergence, genetic results suggest that year to year variation in early rainfall may act to retain genetic variation in the duration of seed dormancy.
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