Aims Sexual systems influence many components of the ecology and evolution of plant populations and have rarely been documented in subtropical evergreen broad-leaved forests (SEBLF). Here we report frequency distribution and ecological correlates of plant sexual systems in SEBLF at Ailao Mountains, and compare our results with that of tropical and cool temperate forests.
Methods We examine the sexual systems of 703 species of woody angiosperms belonging to 103 families and 296 genera based on a comprehensive survey of SEBLF at Ailao Mountains Natural Reserve. Information of plant sexual systems and ecological traits were mainly based on published literatures and specimens as well as our field observations. The associations between plant sexual system and ecological traits were assessed with chi-square tests.
Important findings Among these species, 60.2% were hermaphroditic, 15.8% were monoecious and 24.0% were dioecious. The percentage of dioecious sexual system among tree species (22.2%) in SEBLF was comparable to those of tropical tree floras, but much higher than those of temperate forests at North America. The percentage of monoecious sexual system among tree species (30.1%) in SEBLF was higher than that of tropical tree floras, but much lower than those of temperate forests at North America. Monoecy was significantly associated with the tree growth form and was relatively common in temperate genera. Dioecy was significantly associated with fleshy fruits and monoecy was significantly associated with dry fruit type in SEBLF. The high percentage of diclinous sexual systems (monoecy and dioecy) in SEBLF may be associated with the origin of the flora and the prevalence of relatively small inconspicuous flowers of the forests in the Oriental Region.