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Citation. Tilman, D. 1991. Relative growth rates and plant allocation patterns. The American Naturalist 138:1269-1275. [1175 LTER]
Introduction. Shipley and Peters (1990) suggested that the results of their study of seedling growth rates and biomass partitioning could test some recent theoretical predictions (Tilman 1988). Their desire to test theory and the rapidity with which they did so are gratifying. I commend them, also, for publishing a table of their actual data, which allows for further analyses. I offer three comments on their results. First, although they results are interesting, they misinterpreted aspects of my theory and have thus not refuted it. Second, their data contradict numerous published relationships between morphology and relative growth rate (RGR; see review in Poorter 1989), perhaps because of methodological problems (Poorter and Lambers 1991). Third, further analysis of their data, presented below, shows that the maximal growth rates they observed are highly dependent on the habitat affinities of the species.
Keywords. plant allocation, relative growth rates