Is there tree senescence? The fecundity evidence

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
By: , and 



Despite its importance for forest regeneration, food webs, and human economies, changes in tree fecundity with tree size and age remain largely unknown. The allometric increase with tree diameter assumed in ecological models would substantially overestimate seed contributions from large trees if fecundity eventually declines with size. Current estimates are dominated by overrepresentation of small trees in regression models. We combined global fecundity data, including a substantial representation of large trees. We compared size–fecundity relationships against traditional allometric scaling with diameter and two models based on crown architecture. All allometric models fail to describe the declining rate of increase in fecundity with diameter found for 80% of 597 species in our analysis. The strong evidence of declining fecundity, beyond what can be explained by crown architectural change, is consistent with physiological decline. A downward revision of projected fecundity of large trees can improve the next generation of forest dynamic models.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Is there tree senescence? The fecundity evidence
Series title Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
DOI 10.1073/pnas.2106130118
Volume 118
Issue 34
Year Published 2021
Language English
Publisher PNAS
Contributing office(s) Fort Collins Science Center
Description e2106130118, 10 p.
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