Size-related variation in the cost and probability of flowering among shoots within a crown of Vaccinium hirtum was investigated to clarify patterns and regulation of flowering at the shoot-module level, below the level of the individual. The apices of previous-year shoots differentiated into current-year shoots vegetatively (vegetative branches) or became reproductive by developing inflorescences (reproductive branches). Length growth and fate of current-year shoots were determined, and the future potential for reproduction was estimated using a matrix model of shoot dynamics. Reproductive branches had fewer current-year shoots and shorter total shoot lengths and thus had a reduced potential for reproduction compared with vegetative branches, indicating the cost of flowering at the shoot level. This cost of flowering was higher in longer shoots. The probability of the initiation of flowering in a shoot increased with increasing shoot length in shorter shoots, reached a maximum in medium-sized shoots, and decreased in longer shoots. The size-related changes in the probability of flowering at the shoot level can be largely explained by the size-dependent changes in shoot-level resource availability and cost of flowering.
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