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Data from: Deer indirectly alter the reproductive strategy and operational sex ratio of an unpalatable forest perennial

Citation

Bialic-Murphy, Lalasia; Heckel, Christopher D.; McElderry, Robert M.; Kalisz, Susan (2019), Data from: Deer indirectly alter the reproductive strategy and operational sex ratio of an unpalatable forest perennial, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.gv0420c

Abstract

Environmental conditions impose restrictions and costs on reproduction. Multiple reproductive options exist when increased reproductive costs drive plant populations toward alternative reproductive strategies. Using four years of demographic data across a deer impact gradient, where deer alter the abiotic environment, we parameterize a size-dependent integral projection model for a sexually labile and unpalatable forest perennial to investigate the demographic processes driving differentiation in the operational sex ratio (OSR) of local populations. In addition to a relative increase in asexual reproduction, our results illustrate that non-trophic indirect effects by overabundant deer on this perennial result in delayed female sex expression to unsustainably large plant sizes and leads to more pronounced plant shrinkage following female sex expression, effectively increasing the cost of reproduction. Among plants of reproductive age, increased deer impact decreases the size-dependent probability of flowering and reduces reproductive consistency over time. This pattern in sex expression skews populations toward female-biased OSRs at low deer impact sites and male-biased OSRs at intermediate and high deer impact sites. While this shift toward a male-biased OSR may ameliorate pollen limitation, it also decreases the effective population size when coupled with increased asexual reproduction. The divergence of reproductive strategies and reduced lifetime fitness in response to indirect deer impacts illustrate the persistent long-term effects of overabundant herbivores on unpalatable understory perennials.

Usage Notes

Funding

National Science Foundation, Award: DEB-0108208 and DEB-1457531

Location

USA
Pennsylvania