The Effects of Dominant Plant Species’ Densities on the Invasibility and Diversity of a Prairie Grassland
Madoka, McAllister T.H.
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Studies have shown that biodiversity in an area can be influenced by the traits of the dominant species within that community and that the composition of rare species (which often comprises the majority of the diversity of a site) may also be regulated by the dominant species within the community. Clonals are a group of plants that are often dominant in terrestrial plant communities and are defined by their lateral spread through vegetative reproduction. Though clonal species produce seeds like non-clonal species, they also spread using stolons or rhizomes, roots that spread at or below the ground’s surface and form new plants at nodes along the root or at the ends. Clonals can reproduce in a guerilla fashion by sending out canes which root away from the plant, or in a phalanx fashion, where the plant spreads out from its central clump. By looking at the abundance of ten introduced species selected for this study in regards to the areas with higher levels of two specific clonal plants, Elytrigia repens (Quackgrass) and Rubus flagellaris (Common Dewberry), a correlation between clonal species abundance, total species richness and target species abundance can be established. The hypothesis is that with an increase in the density of the clonal species, a decrease in total species richness, overall target species richness and individual target species richness will be observed.