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A type of unicoloniality within the native range of the fire ant Solenopsis saevissima

Abstract : The maintenance in the long run of a positive carbon balance under very low irradiance is a prerequisite for survival of tree seedlings below the canopy or in small gaps in a tropical rainforest. To provide a quantitative basis for this assumption, experiments were carried out to determine whether construction cost (CC) and payback time for leaves and support structures, as well as leaf life span (i) differ among species and (ii) display an irradiance-elicited plasticity. Experiments were also conducted to determine whether leaf life span correlates to CC and payback time and is close to the optimal longevity derived from an optimization model. Saplings from 13 tropical tree species were grown under three levels of irradiance. Specific-CC was computed, as well as CC scaled to leaf area at the metamer level. Photosynthesis was recorded over the leaf life span. Payback time was derived from CC and a simple photosynthesis model. Specific-CC displayed only little interspecific variability and irradiance-elicited plasticity, in contrast to CC scaled to leaf area. Leaf life span ranged from 4 months to >26 months among species, and was longest in seedlings grown under lowest irradiance. It was always much longer than payback time, even under the lowest irradiance. Leaves were shed when their photosynthesis had reached very low values, in contrast to what was predicted by an optimality model. The species ranking for the different traits was stable across irradiance treatments. The two pioneer species always displayed the smallest CC, leaf life span, and payback time. All species displayed a similar large irradiance-elicited plasticity.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, December 16, 2014 - 3:40:36 PM
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Jean-Michel Martin, Olivier Roux, Sarah Groc, Alain Dejean. A type of unicoloniality within the native range of the fire ant Solenopsis saevissima. Comptes Rendus Biologies, 2011, 334 (4), pp.307-310. ⟨10.1016/j.crvi.2011.01.007⟩. ⟨hal-01095975⟩



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