The Effects of Dominant Plant Species' Densities on the Invasibility and Diversity of a Prairie Grassland
McAllister, Madoka T.H.
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Clonal plants, a functional grouping of species defined by their lateral spread through vegetative reproduction, have been found to be dominating in plant communities. This study aimed to establish a correlation between clonal species abundance and target species richness/abundance by examining the effect that two clonal species (Rubus flagellaris and Elytrigia repens) had on a select number of non-clonal species (target species) in a grassland environment. We conducted our research at the Allegan State Game Area in Southwestern Michigan, where several censuses were conducted throughout the year to obtain information about the number of total species, the number of clonal species and the number of target species at the experiment site. We found that the clonal species negatively affected the growth of the target species; generally the plots with more clonal growth had less target species, with some exceptions. The two clonal species also affected the target species differently, with E. repens exhibiting a stronger negative effect on the non-clonal species than R. flagellaris. Rubus flagellaris had a positive effect on some species whereas E. repens had a negative effect on all species. In addition, the target species showed varying reactions to the presence of the clonals - with some species being clearly more affected than others - indicating that clonals affect varying species differently.