Maternal Provisioning is Structured by Species’ Competitive Neighborhoods

24 July 2018

germain, Rachel; Grainger, Tess; Jones, Natalie; Gilbert, Benjamin

Differential maternal provisioning of offspring in response to environmental conditions has been argued as ‘the missing link’ in plant life histories. Although empirical evidence suggests that maternal provisioning responses to abiotic conditions are common, there is little understanding of how differences in maternal provisioning manifest in response to competition. Frequency manipulations are commonly employed in ecological studies to assess the strength of interspecific competition, relative to intraspecific competition, and we used frequency manipulations to test how competition in two soil moisture environments affects maternal provisioning of seed mass. Specifically, for 15 pairs comprised from 25 annual plant species that occur in California, we varied the relative frequencies of conspecific to heterospecific competitors from 90% (intraspecific competition) to 10% (interspecific competition). We found that conspecific frequency affected maternal provisioning (seed mass) in 12 of the 25 species (8 significantly (P