J Integr Plant Biol. ›› 2008, Vol. 50 ›› Issue (12): 1570-1579.DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-7909.2008.00699.x

Special Issue: Ecology and Global Changes

• Molecular Ecology and Evolution • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Intensity and Importance of Competition for a Grass (Festuca rubra) and a Legume (Trifolium pratense) Vary with Environmental Changes

Junyan Zhang, Genwei Cheng, Feihai Yu, Norbert Krauchi and Mai-He Li   

  • Received:2007-10-15 Accepted:2008-02-12

Abstract: How plant competition varies across environmental gradients has been a long debate among ecologists. We conducted a growth chamber experiment to determine the intensity and importance of competition for plants grown in changed environmental conditions. Festuca rubra and Trifolium pratense were grown in monoculture and in two- and/or threespecies mixtures under three environmental treatments. The measured competitive variations in terms of growth (height and biomass) were species-dependent. Competition intensity for Festuca increased with decreased productivity, whilst competition importance displayed a humpback response. However, significant response was detected in neither competition intensity nor importance for Trifolium. Intensity and importance of competition followed different response patterns, suggesting that they may not be correlated along an environmental gradient. The biological and physiological variables of plants play an important role to determine the interspecific competition associated with competition intensity and importance. However, the competitive feature can be modified by multiple environmental changes which may increase or hinder how competitive a plant is.

Key words: climate change, competition importance, competition intensity, interspecific interaction, species-dependent variation

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