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Responses to the timing of damage in an annual herb Fitness components versus population performance

, : Responses to the timing of damage in an annual herb Fitness components versus population performance. Basic and Applied Ecology 9(3): 233-242

The timing of damage plays an important role in plant fitness but its effect on population performance has received relatively little attention. I examined the effect of the timing of damage on nine components of fitness and population performance in four populations of the annual Melampyrum pratense by clipping plants at the vegetative stage (early clipping) or at the beginning of the flowering period (late clipping). I estimated population performance using a matrix population model that predicts the long-term population growth rate, A. In early clipping, the plants were usually able to compensate for the damage during the growing season. In consequence, early clipping reduced A in only one out of four populations, whereas late clipping reduced it in three populations. The elasticity analyses revealed that the relative importance of different demographic transitions to A varied among the populations. This among-population variation in the sensitivities of to demographic transitions makes it difficult to use changes in specific fitness components as a measure of population performance for annual plants with a seed bank. The current study illustrates that although early-season damage may have a negligible impact on population dynamics in annual plants, the effect of the timing of damage often varies among populations.


DOI: 10.1016/j.baae.2007.02.006

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