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Vivipary in flowering plants is defined as the precocious and continuous growth of the offspring when still attached to the maternal parent. Two main types, true vivipary (involving sexually produced offspring) and pseudovivipary (asexual offspring), may be identified. Vivipary has been described from slightly less than a hundred different species of flowering plants, of which we classify approx. 50% as having true vivipary, with the remaining species being pseudoviviparous. Species with true vivipary tend to inhabit shallow marine habitats while those with pseudovivipary are mostly found in arctic, alpine, or arid habitats. We suggest that all of these habitats are characterized by extraordinarily coarse-grained environments for seedling establishment, albeit with major differences in patch size. In all of these situations the probability of an offspring being dispersed in time or space to a patch better than the parental patch is very low, hence taxa with seed dormancy or seed dispersal mechanisms enjoy no particular advantage. We suggest that future research focus on species that are facultatively pseudoviviparous, as well as on comparisons of ecological and biomechanical aspects of viviparous and non-viviparous mangroves and seagrasses.
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