The Effects of Fertilization and Heterogeneity on the Growth Strategies of Clonal Plants
Allen, Jessie M.
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Theory predicts that in heterogeneous nutrient environments species richness should increase due to increased niche differentiation. However, the evidence to support this theory has been very limited and in many cases not supported at all. This project aims to determine why soil nutrient heterogeneity treatments did not yield an increase in species richness in an ongoing field experiment. One potential reason is that the community is dominated by several spreading clonal plant species. These plants may have the ability to selectively forage for nutrients across patches. We hypothesized that clonal growth strategies may have an effect on the establishment of these species in the field experiment. To test this idea we selected five species along a continuum of growth strategies (phallanx guerilla) from the field and transplanted them to the greenhouse in order to order to answer the questions: (1) Do increasing nutrient levels have an effect on the growth of clonal plant species along a spectrum of growth strategies? (2) Will internode lengths vary within each species along this spectrum at different nutrient levels? (3) Do the differences in growth strategy correlate to the results of the field experiment?