Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2018

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors


Environmental Studies

First Advisor

Dan Doak

Second Advisor

Dale Miller

Third Advisor

Nancy Emery


Populations of the alpine cushion plant Silene acaulis in Colorado have female and hermaphrodite plants, each with respective flowering and fruiting throughout their growing season. In order to understand the differences between the two sexes, I collected flowering data throughout the season as well as fruit and size data and completed statistical analyses. I found similar quantities of flowers for the sexes, twice the fruit production by females, more flowers but fewer fruits on larger plants, and longer flowering ranges for hermaphrodites. Females are more successful at producing fruits from their flowers, whereas hermaphrodites must produce both pollen and seeds. Both sexes follow decreasing trends of fruit production with increasing size. Flowers by size increases faster for hermaphrodites, though fruits per size increases faster for females. These findings may be used for conservation efforts as Silene acaulis plays an important role in ecosystem stability as a nurse plant and will certainly be affected by a changing climate.