The Effects of Fertilization and Heterogeneity On the Growth Strategies of Clonal Plants
Allen, Jessie M.
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Theory predicts that species diversity increases with increasing heterogeneity, although very few field experiments have found evidence to support it. One possible reason for a lack of evidence in some communities is the rapid vegetative spreading of clonal plants. More information on clonal plants and their differing growth strategies will lead to a better understanding of how these plants shape communities. One way in which growth strategies can be separated is by the varying ability to forage and place ramets in favorable microsites. In this experiment clonal plants along a continuum of growth strategies were transplanted from the field and grown in a greenhouse at different soil nutrient levels. It was found that these plants increased above and below ground growth and had varying plasticity of internode lengths in response to fertilization. It was also found that one species with low internode length variability responded to heterogeneity treatments in the field. Clonal growth strategies may have an effect on establishment of these species in environments of varying heterogeneity. More knowledge of clonal growth strategies and patterns of establishment will lead to a greater understanding of how they affect species diversity in these communities.