Corema album is a dioecious coastal shrub. Dioecious plants growing in these resource‐limited habitats may present spatial segregation of the sexes (SSS) or demographic biases because of the different reproductive effort between sexes. In these environments facilitation is a more common interaction between plants than competition. To assess factors determining the distribution of C. album male and female plants, we investigated the influence of habitat type (sand dunes and coastal woodlands), assessed the occurrence of SSS or demographic biases and also a possible role of these shrubs as nurse plants.
We selected three C. album populations with the two habitat types. All C. album individuals were sexed, mapped and measured in three plots (20 m × 20 m) per population/habitat type. Presence and abundance of all plant species were recorded under five female and five male C. albumplants as well as in equivalent open ground area in each of 15 plots.
According to Ripley's K function result, C. album did not display SSS. Generalised linear mixed models (GLMM) show that differences in plant size were not related to plant sex. Plant inventory correspondence analysis showed that species composition and abundance were influenced by habitat type, population and the presence of a C. album individual, but not by its sex. GLMM indicated a detrimental effect of C. album on the co‐occurring plants.
Our results show that sexual dimorphism has allowed C. album to adapt to the environment avoiding SSS or significant demographic bias, suggesting a positive outlook for its conservation.