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  • Neighborhood competition  (1)
  • Phenotypic plasticity  (1)
  • 1
    ISSN: 1432-1939
    Keywords: Neighborhood competition ; Quercus douglasii ; Root morphology ; Soil water potential ; Plant water relations
    Source: Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
    Topics: Biology
    Notes: Summary We examined the competitive effects of two annual species on soil water potential and blue oak (Quercus douglasii Hook & Arn.) seedling growth and water relations. Two densities of the annual grass Bromus diandrus (Roth.) (100/dm2, 3.6/dm2) and one density of the annual forb Erodium botrys (Cav.) (3.6/dm2) comprised plant neighborhoods around the oak seedlings grown in 1 m deep boxes. Rates of soil water depletion differed among neighborhoods. Soil in the Erodium neighborhoods dried significantly more slowly than did soil in the Bromus neighborhoods at either density. Differences in the rates of soil water depletion were correlated both with the 30% lower root biomass developed by Erodium, and the lower water extraction rates of Erodium relative to Bromus roots at constant root biomass. These results suggest that the annual species are not equivalent competitors for water: fibrous grass roots had greater competitive effect than did forb tap-roots. In a control container without an annual neighborhood, soil water potentials remained high for the duration of the experiment. Oak seedling emergence and growth responses were significantly affected by annual plant density. High density of annual plants suppressed oak root growth and shoot emergence. Only 20% of the acorns planted in high density Bromus neighborhoods showed aboveground shoot growth; 56% of those planted in low density Bromus or Erodium emerged. Ninety percent emerged in the control box. Relative growth rates of oak seedling roots and shoots were directly dependent on soil water potentials. Soil water was also closely correlated with oak seedling predawn water potentials and gas conductance measurements. Higher soil water potentials greater dry weights, and longer growing seasons were found for oak seedlings in the Erodium neighborhood and the container with no annuals than in Bromus neighborhoods of either density. These results suggest that competition for soil water with introduced annual species contributes to the increased rate of blue oak seedling mortality currently observed in California woodland systems.
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  • 2
    ISSN: 1432-1939
    Keywords: Ecological genetics ; Phenotypic plasticity ; Plant competition ; Quercus douglasii ; Stable carbon isotope discrimination
    Source: Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
    Topics: Biology
    Notes: Abstract Blue oak (Quercus douglasii) is a deciduous tree species endemic to California that currently exhibits poor seedling survival to sapling age classes. We used common garden techniques to examine how genetic variation at regional and local scales affected phenotypic expression in traits affecting oak seedling growth and survival. Between-population variation was examined for seedlings grown from acorns collected from a northern, mesic population and a southern, xeric population. Within-population variation was examined by comparing seedlings from different maternal families within the mesic population. Acorns were planted into neighborhoods of an annual dicot (Erodium botrys), an annual grass (Bromus diandrus), and a perennial bunchgrass (Nassella pulchra). By varying the species composition of herbaceous neighborhoods into which acorns were planted, the interactive effects of competition and acorn germplasm source on phenotypic expression could also be examined. Potential maternal effects, expressed as variation in acorn size, were assessed by weighing each acorn before planting. Probability of seedling emergence increased significantly with acorn size in the xeric population but not in the mesic population. Similarly, the effect of acorn size on seedling leaf area, stem weight, and root weight was also population-dependent. At a within-population level, acorn size effects on seedling traits varied significantly among maternal families. In addition to acorn size effects, rates of oak seedling emergence were also dependent on an interaction of population source and competitive environment. Interactions between maternal family and competitive environment in the expression of seedling leaf characters suggest the possibility of genetic variation for plasticity in traits such as specific leaf area. Using carbon isotope discrimination (Δ) as an index of relative water-use efficiency (WUE), higher water use efficiency was indicated for oak seedlings grown in the annual plant neighborhoods compared to seedlings grown in the bunchgrass neighborhood. This trend may represent an adaptive plastic response because, compared to the bunchgrass neighborhood, soil water depletion was more rapid within annual plant neighborhoods.
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