Differential Resource Utilization by the Sexes of Dioecious Plants

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Science  13 Aug 1976:
Vol. 193, Issue 4253, pp. 597-599
DOI: 10.1126/science.193.4253.597


The distribution of male and female plants was examined in five dioecious, wind-pollinated species representing five plant families and two classes (gymnosperms and angiosperms). The arid to semiarid habitats occupied by these species in northern Utah were stratified for sampling into two categories: chronically xeric and seasonally moist. The results show that for all species, males are more abundant on xeric microsites, while females are over represented on the moister parts of each local environment. Differential distribution of the sexes along a soil moisture gradient is a strategy that maximizes seed set of females and pollen dispersal of males; it also tends to minimize intraspecific competition between the sexes.