A number of perennial plant species can have different modes of reproduction, depending on environmental conditions. The objective of this paper is to review previously published literature regarding the benefits and costs of asexual (vegetative) and sexual reproduction in perennial plants, and to address which environmental conditions tend to favor each mode of reproduction in plants exhibiting both vegetative and sexual reproduction. Benefits of vegetative reproduction, through physiological integration among intraclonal ramets, may prolong the life in clones of individuals by spreading the risk of mortality over space. Costs of long-term integration may involve maintenance of connections and support of numerous daughter ramets at the expense of the parental clone. The depletion of genotypic variability within clonal populations through time makes them more susceptible to diseases, pathogens, and environmental stochasticity. However, benefits of sexual reproduction include genetic diversity, primarily through recombination, and ability to disperse into new areas. Genetic variation is responsible for the adaptation of populations to their environments. Phenotypes are the visible morphological appearance of genotypes interacting with the environment. Costs of sexual reproduction include construction of floral and reproductive structures. Seed germination and seedling growth are highly vulnerable to biotic and abiotic stresses. Some plant exhibit both types of reproduction, depending on the species and habitat conditions. Creosote bush (Larrea tridentata) and blackbrush (Coleogyne ramosissima) shrubs grow vegetatively on old, stable landscapes. Big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) shrubs grow vegetatively under favorable environmental conditions, and wild strawberry (Fragaria virginiana) plants grow on open habitats. On the contrary, these four plant species would show sexual reproduction when environmental conditions are unfavorable.
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Vol. 42 • No. 1