Reproductive ecology of two Coastal Plain legumes
Squire, Amy Ruth
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Several studies were undertaken to assess the reproductive ecology of two southeastern Coastal Plain legumes: Baptisia arachnifera and B. lanceolata. First, an experimental seed bank study documented B. lanceolata seed fate. Forty percent of seeds remained dormant after one year, suggesting that B. lanceolata can form a seed bank. Seed banks are thought to buffer the effects of predispersal seed predation on population dynamics of long-lived perennials. A comprehensive suite of reproductive traits was evaluated in a rare-common comparison of the two Baptisia species. Most reproductive traits were similar between the rare B. arachnifera and its widespread congener B. lanceolata. One notable difference was the reduced tolerance for high temperatures in B. arachnifera. Finally, reproductive and genetic traits were compared in central (Georgia) and peripheral (South Carolina) populations of B. lanceolata. Peripheral populations had decreased cumulative fitness; however, there was no significant difference in genetic variation between regions.