1. A plant competition model to analyse the competition among perennial grassland species was developed. It was used to find out whether complex perennial competition processes could be simulated accurately on the basis of ecophysiological principles; what crucial parameters and processes determine succession; and how spatial heterogeneity affects interspecies competition for light and nitrogen. 2. Simulation results were compared with results of a 2-year replacement experiment involving Holcus lanatus, Anthoxanthum odoratum and Festuca ovina. Sensitivity analyses were performed to evaluate the importance of processes and parameters. 3. The model's sensitivity to plant height, specific leaf area and turnover and the large interspecific differences indicated that these were key determinants of competition between species. Festuca's low shoot turnover enabled it to survive the winter better and gave it an advantage in spring; this resulted in an unexpected recovery after winter in the second year. 4. Spatially explicit simulations showed that species patchiness reduced competitive asymmetry, especially under nutrient-poor conditions. 5. The model's ability to simulate complex perennial competition processes as observed in the experiment indicates its potential for analysing vegetation processes related to succession. [KEYWORDS: competitive asymmetry; patchiness; spatial model; succession; turnover Relative growth-rate; productivity; carbon; model; coexistence; habitats; turnover; biomass; grasses; plants]
Original languageEnglish
JournalFunctional Ecology
Journal publication date2001

ID: 322702