Effects of spatial pattern and relatedness in an experimental plant community

Monzeglio, U. and Stoll, P.. (2008) Effects of spatial pattern and relatedness in an experimental plant community. Evolutionary ecology, Vol. 22, H. 6. pp. 723-741.

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Official URL: http://edoc.unibas.ch/dok/A5250239

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Many plant species show limited dispersal resulting in spatial and genetic substructures within populations. Consequently, neighbours are often related between each other, resulting in sibling competition. Using seed families of the annuals Capsella bursa-pastoris and Stachys annua we investigated effects of spatial pattern (i.e. random versus aggregated) on total and individual performance at the level of species and seed families under field conditions. At the level of species, we expected that inferior competitors increase, while superior competitors decrease their performance within neighbourhoods of conspecifics. Thus, we expected a species by spatial pattern interaction. Sibling competition, however, might reduce the performance of competitors, when genetically related, rather than non-related individuals are competing. Therefore, aggregations at the level of seed families could decrease the performance of competitors. Alternatively, if the opposite outcome would be observed, kin selection might be hypothesized to have occurred in the past. Because heavy seeds are expected to disperse less than light seeds, we further hypothesized that kin selection might be more likely to occur in superior competitors with heavy, locally dispersed seeds (e.g. Stachys) compared to inferior competitors with light, more distantly dispersed seeds (e.g. Capsella). We found a significant species by spatial pattern interaction. Indeed, the inferior competitor, Capsella, showed increased reproductive biomass production in aggregated compared to random patterns. Whereas, the performance of the superior competitor, Stachys, was to some extent decreased by intraspecific aggregation. Although statistically not significant, effects of intrafamily aggregations tended to be rather negative in Capsella but positive in Stachys. Our results confirmed that spatial patterns affect growth and reproduction of plant species promoting coexistence in plant communities. Although, we could not provide strong evidence for sibling competition or kin selection, our results suggested that competition among relatives was more severe for Capsella (lighter seeds) compared to Stachys (heavier seeds).
Faculties and Departments:05 Faculty of Science > Departement Umweltwissenschaften > Integrative Biologie > Naturschutzbiologie (Baur)
UniBasel Contributors:Stoll, Peter
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Publisher:Chapman and Hall
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
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Last Modified:22 Mar 2012 14:28
Deposited On:22 Mar 2012 14:03

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