Interrelationships among life-history traits in three California oaks

Brian C. Barringer, Walter D. Koenig, Johannes M.H. Knops

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


Life-history traits interact in important ways. Relatively few studies, however, have explored the relationships between life-history traits in long-lived taxa such as trees. We examined patterns of energy allocation to components of reproduction and growth in three species of California oaks (Quercus spp.) using a combination of annual acorn censuses, dendrometer bands to measure radial increment, and litterfall traps. Our results are generally consistent with the hypothesis that energy invested in reproduction detracts from the amount of energy available for growth in these long-lived taxa; i. e., there are trade-offs between these traits. The relationships between reproduction and growth varied substantially among specific trait combinations and tree species, however, and in some cases were in the direction opposite that expected based on the assumption of trade-offs between them. This latter finding appears to be a consequence of the pattern of resource use across years in these long-lived trees contrasting with the expected partitioning of resource use within years in short-lived taxa. Thus, the existence and magnitude of putative trade-offs varied depending on whether the time scale considered was within or across years. Collectively, our results indicate that negative relationships between fundamental life-history traits can be important at multiple levels of modular organization and that energy invested in reproduction can have measurable consequences in terms of the amount of energy available for future reproduction and both current and future growth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-139
Number of pages11
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Autocorrelation
  • Correlation
  • Life-history
  • Quercus
  • Resource partitioning

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