Effect of altitude on the sex ratio in populations of Silene acaulis (Caryophyllaceae)

  • Alatalo J
  • Molau U
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Predicted increase of female frequencies in gynodioecious S. acaulis was tested along an altitude gradient in northern Sweden. Average female frequencies for the four sites increased with altitude from 42 to 59% within a short geographical distance. This follows the outcrossing hypothesis, that female frequencies should be positively correlated with selfing rates of hermaphrodites in populations. More adverse environmental conditions should favour gynodioecy in areas where reproduction to a greater part relies on vegetative reproduction or selfing. Further, a significant difference in corolla width was found between females and the larger hermaphrodites, but not between sites. Cushion size and number of flowers per cushion decreased with altitude.

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