Mast-fruiting or masting behavior is the cumulative result of the reproductive patterns of individuals within a population and thus involves components of individual variability, between-individual synchrony, and endogenous cycles of temporal autocorrelation. Extending prior work by Herrera, we explore the interrelationships of these components using data on individual seed production in 59 populations of plants from 24 species spanning a large range of annual variability, from species exhibiting strong masting to others with little annual variability in seed production. Estimates of population and individual variability were not biased by sample size or average overall seed production when based on untransformed seed production values, but these values declined as log-transformed seed production increased. Population variability was more strongly correlated with individual variability (r = 0.86) than individual synchrony (r = 0.73). These latter two components were also significantly correlated (r = 0.45), but randomizations confirm that they need not covary closely. Thus, selection can act separately on inter-annual variability and between-individual synchrony. We illustrate the potential for such fine-tuned selection on seed production patterns by discussing several examples and by demonstrating significant differences in components of population-level variation in seed production among species related to their life-history.
Koenig, W. D., Kelly, D., Sork, V. L., Duncan, R. P., Elkinton, J. S., Peltonen, M. S., & Westfall, R. D. (2003). Dissecting components of population-level variation in seed production and the evolution of masting behavior. OIKOS, 102(3), 581-591. https://doi.org/10.1034/j.1600-0706.2003.12272.x