Monday, May 17, 2010

Whole-flora analysis: flowering and community assembly

Distribution of first flowering dates for 265 Konza grassland species (as of mid-May). 

There are some ecological analyses that can only be done by analyzing every species in a flora. Statistical inference aside, if we are to understand ecological sorting and community assembly, we need whole-flora analyses.

For example, we've slowly been accumulating data on first flowering for the Konza flora. For each species,  the day of year it first begins to flower is recorded. We're about half-way to having dates for the entire grassland flora. It's a bit biased now as we're still collecting data this year, but that's why this is on a blog...

There seems like there might be pretty strong selection pressures to flower at times when 1) environmental stress is low and 2) there is little competition for pollinators. I'm not sure if there would be selection against synchrony in flowering time for anemophilous species, but we that would be something to test, too. In this case, deciding what the null model is, is the hardest part.

I like the idea of whole-flora analyses. It's a lot of work though.

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