Interannual variability of growth and reproduction in Bursera simaruba: the role of allometry and resource variability
Plants are expected to differentially allocate resources to reproduction, growth, and survival in order to maximize overall fitness. Life history theory predicts that the allocation of resources to reproduction should occur at the expense of vegetative growth. Although it is known that both organism size and resource availability can influence life history traits, few studies have addressed how size dependencies of growth and reproduction and variation in resource supply jointly affect the coupling between growth and reproduction. In order to understand the relationship between growth and reproduction in the context of resource variability, we utilize a long-term observational data set consisting of 670 individual trees over a 10-year period within a local population of Bursera simaruba (L.) Sarg. We (1) quantify the functional form and variability in the growth–reproduction relationship at the population and individual-tree level and (2) develop a theoretical framework to understand the allometric dependence of growth and reproduction. Our findings suggest that the differential responses of allometric growth and reproduction to resource availability, both between years and between microsites, underlie the apparent relationship between growth and reproduction. Finally, we offer an alternative approach for quantifying the relationship between growth and reproduction that accounts for variation in allometries.