KEY RESULTS: Young male shoots held more water per unit length, and male clumps had higher shoot density, which extrapolated to higher clump water-holding capacity.
However, female clumps held more water and were taller with more robust shoots.
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PREMISE OF THE STUDY: Differences in male and female reproductive function can lead to selection for sex-specific gamete dispersal and capture traits.
Actual clump capacity correlated positively with clump height and shoot cross-sectional area.
CONCLUSIONS: The sex difference in actual clump capacity and its unpredictability from younger shoots are consistent with our hypothesis that males should hold less water than females to facilitate sexual reproduction.
These traits have been explored from shoot to whole plant levels in wind-pollinated species.
While shoot traits have been explored in water-fertilized species, little is known about how whole plant morphology affects gamete dispersal and capture.