Journal Article

Mineral nutrient stoichiometric variability in <i>Hedera helix</i> (Araliaceae) seeds

José Ramón Obeso

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 109, issue 4, pages 801-806
Published in print March 2012 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online December 2011 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI:
Mineral nutrient stoichiometric variability in Hedera helix (Araliaceae) seeds

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  • Ecology and Conservation
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Plant Sciences and Forestry


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Background and Aims

The analysis of variability in mineral allocation to seeds has rarely been considered in relation to allometric patterns and deviations from the allometric trajectory. Here, I examine the scaling of carbon (C), nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and sulfur (S) with seed mass in field-collected seeds of Hedera helix, taking into account that brood size might influence the allocation patterns.


C, N and S contents of 56 individual seeds of different sizes were analysed by combustion using a standard automated CNHS procedure. P content was determined for 200 individual seeds using spectrophotometry after acid digestion of ashed samples. This sample included seeds from different brood sizes.

Key Results

C and N content both varied isometrically with seed mass and this variable explained most of the variation in their content in seeds. P and S, however, varied allometrically with seed mass. Additionally, seed mass only explained 37·3 % and 37·6 % of the total variance in P and S content, respectively. Seeds with higher mass contained proportionately more P and, furthermore, the seeds from small broods contained proportionally more P than those from large broods.


Although seed mass in this species can be used as a surrogate of investment in C and N, it does not account for variability in allocation of nutrients such as P and S. The fact that larger seeds increased their P concentration when found in smaller broods might be a consequence of intense competition for this nutrient among developing seeds. Then, brood size may influence the mineral nutrient concentration of seeds.

Keywords: Allocation; phosphorus; nitrogen; stoichiometry; seed mass; brood size; sibling rivalry

Journal Article.  3916 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ecology and Conservation ; Evolutionary Biology ; Plant Sciences and Forestry

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