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Title: Sex and tree rings: Females neither grow less nor are less water-use efficient than males in four dioecious tree species
Authors: García Barreda, Sergi
Sangüesa Barreda, Gabriel
García González, María Dolores
Camarero Martínez, Jesús Julio
Issue Date: 2022
Citation: Dendrochronologia, vol. 73, (2022)
Abstract: Females of woody dioecious species usually expend more resources on reproduction than males. Therefore, it is expected that females incur greater costs of reproduction than males, and, as a result, trade-offs between reproduction and growth should emerge. The aim of this study is to test those hypotheses by analyzing the differences between genders regarding radial growth (basal area increment) and wood carbon isotope composition (δ13C), a proxy of water-use efficiency. We compared these two variables in males and females of four dioecious tree species inhabiting drought-prone Mediterranean sites in Spain (Pistacia terebinthus, Ilex aquifolium, Juniperus thurifera and Ailanthus altissima). We analyzed the influence of sex on the radial growth patterns throughout the tree life considering the growth stage of individuals, the differences in the response of genders to climate variables (air temperature, precipitation and drought severity), and the δ13C during a severe drought period. One site was studied for each species and 21–33 trees per species were sampled in each site. No differences in growth were found between genders for any of the four species throughout their life span. No significant interactions between gender and precipitation were found, although A. altissima males were more responsive to summer (June-July) temperature. No differences in δ13C were found between genders excepting for P. terebinthus, indicating that the males of this species show a less efficient water use during drought events than the females. These results do not support the broad assumption that females of woody dioecious plants show lower growth and are less water-use efficient than males or that they respond differently to precipitation variability, except for P. terebinthus during drought events. Further analyses could be performed in other dioecious species inhabiting seasonally dry regions to confirm or reject our conclusions.
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Appears in Collections:[DOCIART] Artículos científicos, técnicos y divulgativos

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