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The ecology and evolution of synchronized reproduction in long-lived plants

October 18, 2021

Populations of many long-lived plants exhibit spatially synchronized seed production that varies extensively over time, so that seed production in some years is much higher than on average, while in others, it is much lower or absent. This phenomenon termed masting or mast seeding has important consequences for plant reproductive success, ecosystem dynamics and plant–human interactions. Inspired by recent advances in the field, this special issue presents a series of articles that advance the current understanding of the ecology and evolution of masting. To provide a broad overview, we reflect on the state-of-the-art of masting research in terms of underlying proximate mechanisms, ontogeny, adaptations, phylogeny and applications to conservation. While the mechanistic drivers and fitness consequences of masting have received most attention, the evolutionary history, ontogenetic trajectory and applications to plant–human interactions are poorly understood. With increased availability of long-term datasets across broader geographical and taxonomic scales, as well as advances in molecular approaches, we expect that many mysteries of masting will be solved soon. The increased understanding of this global phenomenon will provide the foundation for predictive modelling of seed crops, which will improve our ability to manage forests and agricultural fruit and nut crops in the Anthropocene.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2021
Title The ecology and evolution of synchronized reproduction in long-lived plants
DOI 10.1098/rstb.2020.0369
Authors Mario B. Pesendorfer, Davide Ascoli, Michal Bogdziewicz, Andrew Hacket-Pain, Ian Pearse, Giorgio Vacchiano
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Index ID 70226183
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Fort Collins Science Center