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Reproduction of Antarctic flowering plants

  • Peter Convey (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 May 2004

Reproductive allocation (reproductive biomass relative to vegetative biomass) and seed production were measured for samples of the two native phanerogams occurring in Antarctica. Material collected on South Georgia (subantarctic), Signy Island (northern maritime Antarctic) and Léonie Island (southern maritime Antarctic) allowed an initial comparison of reproduction over a wide latitudinal range. Sizes of vegetative and reproductive structures of Colobanthus quitensis were smaller in Signy Island samples than those from South Georgia or Léonie Island. This pattern was reflected in the pattern of seed production. Vegetative and reproductive structures of Deschampsia antarctica were generally similar in size at both maritime Antarctic sites, but larger at subantarctic South Georgia. Seed production was similar in each season assessed and at all three sites. In most samples of both species there were close relationships between reproductive and vegetative biomass, and seed output and reproductive biomass. Subantartic C. quitensis showed greater allocation to seed production than material from maritime Antarctic sites. D. antarctica showed the reverse pattern, with greater allocation to reproductive biomass and seed production in most samples of maritime Antarctic material, particularly those from Signy Island. Reproductive strategies do not form any specific adaptation to the Antarctic environment for these species. Reasons for the failure of other higher plants to become established in the maritime Antarctic are discussed, and it is concluded that geographical isolation is the main factor. The most important proximate factors influencing propagules which reach potential colonization sites are likely to be the short length and low temperature of the summer season in relation to the time required for establishment.

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Antarctic Science
  • ISSN: 0954-1020
  • EISSN: 1365-2079
  • URL: /core/journals/antarctic-science
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