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Proc Biol Sci. 2003 September 7; 270(1526): 1829–1838.
PMCID: PMC1691450

Evolution of complex flowering strategies: an age- and size-structured integral projection model.


We explore the evolution of delayed age- and size-dependent flowering in the monocarpic perennial Carlina vulgaris, by extending the recently developed integral projection approach to include demographic rates that depend on size and age. The parameterized model has excellent descriptive properties both in terms of the population size and in terms of the distributions of sizes within each age class. In Carlina the probability of flowering depends on both plant size and age. We use the parameterized model to predict this relationship, using the evolutionarily stable strategy (ESS) approach. Despite accurately predicting the mean size of flowering individuals, the model predicts a step-function relationship between the probability of flowering and plant size, which has no age component. When the variance of the flowering-threshold distribution is constrained to the observed value, the ESS flowering function contains an age component, but underpredicts the mean flowering size. An analytical approximation is used to explore the effect of variation in the flowering strategy on the ESS predictions. Elasticity analysis is used to partition the agespecific contributions to the finite rate of increase (lambda) of the survival-growth and fecundity components of the model. We calculate the adaptive landscape that defines the ESS and generate a fitness landscape for invading phenotypes in the presence of the observed flowering strategy. The implications of these results for the patterns of genetic diversity in the flowering strategy and for testing evolutionary models are discussed. Results proving the existence of a dominant eigenvalue and its associated eigenvectors in general size- and age-dependent integral projection models are presented.

Articles from Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences are provided here courtesy of The Royal Society