Population divergence for heteroblasty in the Canary Island pine (Pinus canariensis, Pinaceae). uri icon

abstract

  • A heteroblastic (or vegetative phase) change is an abrupt manifestation in the general heteroblastic development during the ontogeny of plants. The Canary Island pine undergoes an especially marked and delayed heteroblastic change, including both the formation of secondary needles on dwarf shoots and the onset of preformed growth. To assess genetic and environmental effects on the heteroblastic change in this species, we followed plants from 19 populations at a dry site and a wetter site. Comparing juvenile and adult needles from the same individuals, the adult had a significantly lower rate of water loss and higher leaf mass per area. Pooling data from all seed sources, the heteroblastic change took place when plants reached a critical height, on average, at 4 years of age at the dry site and I year earlier at the wet site. Within a subsample of individuals of equal size, mortality was significantly higher in juvenile plants than in mature plants. However, the juvenile phase was longer in plants from dry regions when compared to plants from highly productive, wet regions. This apparent contradiction might be explained through differential resource allocation and the cost of sclerophylly and resprouting ability. Considering the life strategy of the Canary Island pine, we interpret the prolonged juvenile phase as an unavoidable trade-off for the high tolerance of adults to harsh environments.

publication date

  • 2006
  • 2006