Sex at high altitudes: plant reproduction

Alpine plants have developed a large variety of life history tactics providing a maximum of flexibility and reproductive success in a frequently hostile environment. Constraints to sexual reproduction at high altitudes include the short vegetation time, a limitation of pollinators and the high risk of early frosts limiting seed set. What are the pollinating animals visiting flowers at high altitudes? What are the particularities of seed dispersal, germination and establishment among ice, stones and sand? Early flowering vs. a larger seed set is an unavoidable contradiction when the favourable growth period is short. Breeding systems and incompatibility systems determine the rate of selfing vs. outcrossing. Case studies of reproduction in alpine habitats and alpine species will demonstrate what is similar and what is different in the sexual life of plants at high altitudes.

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Seed banks in alpine soils Selfing Protogyny Protandry Heterostyly Dioecy Self-incompatibility Plant sexuality Seeds: dispersal Seeds: the size vs. number trade off The tiny chance of a seed to become an adult A matter of timing? Pollen riskers vs. seed riskers Importance of flies as pollinators Pollinator availability and pollinator spectra Limitations to seed set? Conclusions Why so many abortions of flowers and seeds? Review test Abandonment of sex in the cold? Reproductive options in plants Introduction Learning objectives Start