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Data from: A phylogenetic analysis of trait convergence in the spring flora

Cite this dataset

Hensel, Lisa E.; Sargent, Risa D. (2012). Data from: A phylogenetic analysis of trait convergence in the spring flora [Dataset]. Dryad.


In temperate deciduous forests, spring flowering plants exhibit remarkable similarity in a number of characteristics, including reproductive, vegetative, and ecological traits. The apparent convergence of floral traits, especially corolla colour, among spring flowering species has been well documented, but remains poorly understood. Here we review adaptive hypotheses and predictions that have been proposed to explain the apparent correlation between spring flowering and a suite of traits. We investigated the correlation between flowering phenology (i.e., spring or nonspring) and several key traits using phylogenetic comparative methods. Through this analysis we were able to confirm the existence of a correlation for five of the six traits examined. Specifically, spring flowering is shown to have evolved in a correlated fashion with reproductive schedule (perennial vs. annual), light corolla colour, fruit type, growth form, and forest strata layer. In general, our survey determined that spring flowering species are perennial, have light coloured corollas, a herbaceous growth form, and tend to occupy the understory of the forest. These results are discussed in light of the reviewed adaptive hypotheses and the spring pollination environment.

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