Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Is there tree senescence? The fecundity evidence

August 24, 2021

Despite its importance for forest regeneration, food webs, and human economies, changes in tree fecundity with tree size and age remain largely unknown. The allometric increase with tree diameter assumed in ecological models would substantially overestimate seed contributions from large trees if fecundity eventually declines with size. Current estimates are dominated by overrepresentation of small trees in regression models. We combined global fecundity data, including a substantial representation of large trees. We compared size–fecundity relationships against traditional allometric scaling with diameter and two models based on crown architecture. All allometric models fail to describe the declining rate of increase in fecundity with diameter found for 80% of 597 species in our analysis. The strong evidence of declining fecundity, beyond what can be explained by crown architectural change, is consistent with physiological decline. A downward revision of projected fecundity of large trees can improve the next generation of forest dynamic models.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2021
Title Is there tree senescence? The fecundity evidence
DOI 10.1073/pnas.2106130118
Authors Tong Qiu, Marie-Claire Aavena Acuna, Robert A. Andrus, Davide Ascoli, Yves Bergeron, Roberta Berretti, Michal Bogdziewicz, Thomas Boivin, Raul Bonal, Thomas Caignard, Rafael Calama, Julio Camarero, Connie Clark, Benoit Courbaud, Sylvain Delzon, Sergio Donoso Calderon, William Farfan-Rios, Catherine A. Gehring, Gregory S. Gilbert, Cathryn H. Greenberg, Qinfeng Guo, Janneke Hille Ris Lambers, Hoshi Hoshizaki, Ines Ibanez, Valentin Journee, Christopher L. Kilner, Richard Kobe, WD Koenig, Georges Kunstler, Jalene M. LaMontagne, Mateusz Ledwon, James A. Lutz, Renzo Motta, Jonathan A. Myers, Thomas A. Nagel, Kyotaro Noguchi, Chase Nunez, Ian Pearse, Carlos Perez-Izquierdo, Lukasz Piechnik, John Poulson, Renata Poulton-Kamakura, Miranda Redmond, Chantal D. Reid, Kyle C. Rodman, C. Lane Scher, Harald Schmidt Van Marle, Barbara Seget, Shubhi Sharma, Miles Silman, Jennifer J. Swenson, Margaret Swift, Maria Uriarte, Giorgio Vacchiano, Renato Valencia, Andrew Vander Yacht, Thomas T Veblen, Amy V. Whipple, Thomas G. Whitham, Andreas Wion, Joseph Wright, Kai Zhu, Jess K. Zimmerman, Magdalena Zywiec, James S. Clark
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Index ID 70226186
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Fort Collins Science Center