Many plant species show masting, intermittent and synchronized reproduction at population level. In the present paper, we review the resource-based model providing a theoretically plausible physiological mechanism underlying masting. In the model, a non-linear allocation of energy reserves is considered: plants accumulate photosynthate every year, produce flowers when the energy reserve level exceeds a threshold, and set seeds at a rate limited by pollen availability. The model predicted that individual plants alter their reproductive dynamics from annual to intermittent depending on how heavily the plant invests resource in reproduction. When fruit production is limited by the availability of outcross pollen, a plant population showed diverse reproductive behavior such as completely synchronized or desynchronized reproduction. Spatial scale of reproductive synchrony tended to be a few times larger than the range of direct pollen exchange. Impact of climatic fluctuation correlated at a large spatial scale was also investigated as an alternative synchronizing factor. The variation in annual productivity and the reproductive threshold induced from climatic fluctuation was accounted for by incorporating an additional term in the model. When plants show a 2 year reproductive cycle, highly synchronized reproduction at a regional scale was induced due to correlated environmental forcing, but reproductive synchrony with long intermast periods was realized only when pollen coupling and environmental forcing were at work. These results suggest that distance-dependent processes, such as pollen exchange between nearby trees, induce synchrony at a local scale and external environmental forcing correlated at geographically large scales works to strengthen and maintain such a synchrony.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics