Journal Article

Differential competitive ability between sexes in the dioecious <i>Antennaria dioica</i> (Asteraceae)

Sandra Varga and Minna-Maarit Kytöviita

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 110, issue 7, pages 1461-1470
Published in print November 2012 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online August 2012 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI:
Differential competitive ability between sexes in the dioecious Antennaria dioica (Asteraceae)

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


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Background and Aims

Differences in competitive ability between the sexes of dioecious plants are expected as a result of allocation trade-offs associated with sex-differential reproductive costs. However, the available data on competitive ability in dioecious plants are scarce and contradictory. In this study sexual competition was evaluated using the dioecious plant Antennaria dioica in a common garden transplantation experiment.


Male and female plants were grown for 3 years either in isolation, or in competition with a plant of the same sex or the opposite sex. Flowering phenology, sexual and asexual reproduction, plant growth, nutrient content and arbuscular mycorrhizal colonization in the roots were assessed.

Key Results

Our results showed little evidence of sexual differences in competitive ability. Both sexes suffered similarly from competition, and competitive effects were manifested in some traits related to fitness but not in others. Survival was unaffected by competition, but competing plants reduced their vegetative growth and reproductive investment compared with non-competing plants. In addition, differences in sexual competitive ability were observed in relation to flowering frequency, an important life history trait not reported in previous studies.


The findings indicate that female and male A. dioica plants possess similar intersexual competitive abilities which may be related to the similar costs of reproduction between sexes in this species. Nevertheless, intrasexual competition is higher in females, giving support for asymmetric niche segregation between the sexes.

Keywords: Antennaria dioica; competition; dioecy; niche segregation; sexual dimorphism

Journal Article.  6864 words.  Illustrated.

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

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