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Effects of bryophytes and grass litter on seedling emergence vary by vertical seed position and seed size
Justus-Liebig-University Giessen, Germany.
Justus-Liebig-University Giessen, Germany.
2010 (English)In: Plant Ecology, ISSN 1385-0237, E-ISSN 1573-5052, Vol. 207, no 2, 257-268 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Establishment of plants through seeds is often constrained by the quality of microsites, which is in part controlled by the nature and amount of ground cover. The latter consists of living shoots of vascular plants or bryophytes and/or the dead remains of the dominant species. In the present article, we report the results of a controlled pot experiment with five species characteristic of floodplain grasslands. We manipulated the amounts of grass litter and/or mosses to study (1) differences between ground cover types with respect to their effects on microenvironment and seedling emergence and (2) how these effects interact with seed size and seed sowing position. Increasing amounts of both cover types led to increasing soil humidity, whereas temperature amplitude and illumination were decreased. However, since grass litter decomposed much faster than bryophytes, light conditions for germination under grass litter improved considerably with time. Although seedling emergence varied significantly between species, ground cover types and cover amounts, seed position alone explained about 50% of the variation in the data set. Additionally, we found an important interaction between seed size, seed position and cover type: large-seeded species showed a fitness advantage when seeds were situated beneath a cover, irrespective of cover type, which disappeared when seeds were shed on top of a cover layer. We suggest that this interaction may be ecologically and evolutionarily relevant because it may lead to changes in species composition and diversity of plant communities as a consequence of changes in the amount and type of ground cover.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2010. Vol. 207, no 2, 257-268 p.
Keyword [en]
Mosses, Facilitation, Floodplain, Germination, Grassland, Invasibility
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Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-37732DOI: 10.1007/s11258-009-9670-8ISI: 000275123700007OAI: diva2:857183
Available from: 2015-09-28 Created: 2015-08-24 Last updated: 2015-09-28Bibliographically approved

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Eckstein, Rolf Lutz
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