J Integr Plant Biol. ›› 2006, Vol. 48 ›› Issue (5): -.DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-7909.2006.00265.x

• Research Articles •    

Density Effects on Plant Height Growth and Inequality in Sunflower Populations

Sa Xiao, Shu-Yan Chen, Lu-Qiang Zhao and Gang Wang   

Abstract: Comparisons between competing and non-competing sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.) populations demonstrate pronounced effects of density on plant height growth, height-to-crown width ratio, and a population’s height inequality. In the present study, non-destructive measurements of height and the projected crown area of sunflower plants were taken at seven times from emergence to fruit maturation in even-aged monospecific stands with initial densities of 1, 4, 16, and 64 plants/m2. The mean height of populations increased and then decreased with increasing population density; the height inequalities of uncrowded populations decreased during stand growth, whereas the height inequalities of crowded populations decreased first and then increased during stand development. The interindividual relationships between the relative height growth rate and height within uncrowded populations became significantly negative during population growth, whereas these relationships were negative first and then became positive during the development of crowded populations. In the uncrowded populations, the static interindividual relationship between height-to-crown width ratio and volume was positive, whereas for the crowded population these relationships became negative with increasing competition for light. The data suggest that the plastic responses of plant height and height-to-crown width ratio to light competition will become more intense with increasing competition intensity. The results of the present study argue strongly for the importance of size-dependent individual-level plastic responses due to size-asymmetric light competition in generating the variations in population height inequality.(Author for correspondence.Tel:0931-8912849;Fax:0931-8912823; Email:wangg@lzu.edu.cn)

Key words: height, inequality, light competition, plasticity, size dependent.

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