Intraspecific aggregation and soil heterogeneity: competitive interactions of two clonal plants with contrasting spatial architecture

W. Xue, L. Huang, F.-H. Yu (Corresponding author), T.M. Bezemer

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Background and aims
Intraspecific aggregation of plant individuals can promote species coexistence by delaying competitive exclusions. However, such impacts may differ among species with contrasting spatial architecture and rely on the spatial distribution of resources.

We grew a phalanx clonal plant Carex neurocarpa (with aggregated ramets) and a guerilla one Bolboschoenus planiculmis (with diffused ramets) in monocultures or in 1:1 mixtures with an even or a clustered distribution pattern of the two species in homogeneous or heterogeneous soils.

After 16 months, shoot biomass and ramet number were greater in mixtures than in monocultures in C. neurocarpa, but smaller in B. planiculmis. However, the growth of neither C. neurocarpa nor B. planiculmis differed between even and clustered mixtures. Soil nutrient heterogeneity did not significantly affect the growth of either species, but increased relative yield of B. planiculmis and decreased that of C. neurocarpa.

The relative importance of intra- vs. interspecific competition depends on the spatial architecture of plants, and soil nutrient heterogeneity slows down competitive exclusion by decreasing differences in competitive ability between plants. However, our results do not support the idea that intraspecific aggregation of individuals alters competitive interactions between species.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)231-240
JournalPlant and Soil
Issue number1-2
Early online date07 Feb 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018


Bibliographical note

6467, TE; Data archiving: property of and archived at Taizhou University


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