Indexed on: 21 Apr '09Published on: 21 Apr '09Published in: Annals of botany
In clonal plants producing vegetative offspring, performance at the genet level as well as at the ramet level should be investigated in order to understand the entire picture of the population dynamics and the life history characteristics. In this study, demography, including reproduction and survival, the growth patterns and the spatial distributions of ramets within genets of the clonal herb Convallaria keiskei were explored.Vegetative growth, flowering and survival of shoots whose genets were identified using microsatellite markers were monitored in four study plots for 3 years (2003-2005). The size structures of ramets in genets and their temporal shifts were then analysed. Their spatial distributions were also examined.During the census, 274 and 149 ramets were mapped in two 1 x 2 m plots, and 83 and 94 ramets in two 2 x 2 m quadrats. Thirty-eight genotypes were identified from 580 samples. Each plot included 5-18 genets, and most ramets belonged to the predominant genet(s) in each plot. Shoots foliated yearly for several years, but flowering ramets did not have an inflorescence the next year. A considerable number of new clonal offspring persistently appeared, forming a bell-shaped curve of the size structure of ramets in each genet. Comparing the structures modelled by the normal distributions suggested variation among ramets belonging to a single genet and variation among genets. Furthermore, spatial analyses revealed clumped and distant distributions of ramet pairs in a genet, in which the distant patterns corresponded to the linearly elongating clonal growth pattern of this species.Characteristics of ramet performances such as flowering and recruitment of clonal offspring, in addition to growth, played a large part in the regulation of genet dynamics and distribution, which were different among the studied genets. These might be characteristics particularly relevant to clonal life histories.