Wind-pollinated dioecious plants often exhibit spatial segregation of the sexes. This partial niche separation has most often been explored using abiotic niche axes. However, if the sexes are truly separated in space, then they are apt to encounter different plant species that may heavily affect growth and reproduction. Also, to the extent that their niches differ, the sexes may respond differently to the same co-occurring species. Here we examine interspecific interactions that influence male and female reproductive potential in Atriplex bonnevillensis. Using Emlen's interaction assessment, a technique which assesses species interactions based on cover classes, we show that Salsola species compete significantly with females but not males, while Halogeton glomeratus competes with males but not females. The effect of competition only became apparent when we corrected for site-specific fertility. These results imply that differential competition must be considered when studying dioecious plants that display spatial segregation of the sexes.
Additional publication details
Differential phytosociological interactions involving male and female atriplex bonnevillensis