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Facilitation vs. competition: Does interspecific interaction affect drought responses in Sphagnum?
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Biology, Department of Ecology and Genetics, Plant Ecology and Evolution.
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2013 (English)In: Basic and Applied Ecology, ISSN 1439-1791, Vol. 14, no 7, 574-584 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The stress-gradient hypothesis (SGH) predicts that the relative importance of competition decreases and facilitation increases with an increase in abiotic stress. In peatlands, Sphagnum faces the threat of drought and differentiates into hummock species (drought-tolerant) and hollow species. Whether interspecific interaction affects the influence of drought on bryophyte composition in peatlands is unknown. We established an experiment by simulating drought and building bryophyte communities with two hummock species (S. palustre and S. capillifolium) and one hollow species (S. fallax). In all three species, drought decreased biomass production, height increment and side-shoot production. Sphagnum stores water in the hyaline cells, and leaf hyaline cell percentage (HCP) in the two hummock species increased with drought while no effect was found in S. fallax, suggesting that adjusting HCP is not an effective response to drought for the hollow species. Morphological traits and carbon and nitrogen contents in hummock species responded more to drought than in the hollow species, indicating a rapid response in phenotypic plasticity is an important strategy to resist drought in the hummock species. The presence of neighboring Sphagnum species, rather than drought, decreased carbon content for all three species. All three bryophytes showed interaction between drought and neighbor in two or more plant traits. Our study, however, did not support SGH, and there were no changes from competition under wet to facilitation under dry treatments in any of the six species combinations. On the contrary, when S. fallax was the target species, a change from facilitation under wet to competition under dry treatments was observed. The results suggest that hummock species can facilitate hollow species in wet environments but they could suppress hollow species under drought conditions by competing for water resources. Both drought and strong competition are the probable reasons why hollow species rarely grow in hummocks.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. Vol. 14, no 7, 574-584 p.
Keyword [en]
Drought-tolerance, Facilitation, Stress gradient hypothesis, Carbon content, Nitrogen content
National Category
Natural Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-210549DOI: 10.1016/j.baae.2013.08.002ISI: 000325758400006OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-210549DiVA: diva2:664131
Available from: 2013-11-14 Created: 2013-11-11 Last updated: 2013-11-14Bibliographically approved

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Rydin, Håkan
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