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  • 1.
    Donath, Tobias W.
    et al.
    Justus-Liebig-University Giessen, Germany.
    Eckstein, Rolf Lutz
    Justus-Liebig-University Giessen, Germany.
    Effects of bryophytes and grass litter on seedling emergence vary by vertical seed position and seed size2010In: Plant Ecology, ISSN 1385-0237, E-ISSN 1573-5052, Vol. 207, no 2, p. 257-268Article in journal (Refereed)
    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.

  • 2.
    Loydi, Alejandro
    et al.
    Justus Liebig Univ Giessen, Tyskland.
    Eckstein, Rolf Lutz
    Karlstad University, Faculty of Health, Science and Technology (starting 2013), Department of Environmental and Life Sciences (from 2013).
    Gebauer, Tobias
    Univ Hamburg, Appl Plant Ecol, Bioctr Klein Flottbek.
    Ludewig, Kristin
    Justus Liebig Univ Giessen, Tyskland.
    Otte, Annette
    Justus Liebig Univ Giessen, Tyskland.
    Reisdorff, Christoph
    Univ Hamburg,.
    Jensen, Kai
    Univ Hamburg.
    Donath, Tobias W.
    Christian Albrechts Univ Kiel.
    Opposite effects of litter and hemiparasites on a dominant grass under different water regimes and competition levels2018In: Plant Ecology, ISSN 1385-0237, E-ISSN 1573-5052, Vol. 219, no 2, p. 133-144Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Direct and indirect biotic interactions may affect plant growth and development, but the magnitude of these effects may vary depending on environmental conditions. In grassland ecosystems, competition is a strong structuring force. Nonetheless, if hemiparasitic plant species are introduced the competition intensity caused by the dominant species may be affected. However, the outcome of these interactions may change between wet or dry periods. In order to study this, we performed a pot experiment with different densities of the dominant species Schedonorus arundinaceus (1, 2 or 4 individuals) under constantly moist or intermittently dry conditions. The different Schenodorus densities were crossed with presence or absence of hemiparasites (either Rhinanthus minor or R. alectorolophus). Additionally, pots remained with bare ground or received a grass litter layer (400 g m(-2)). We expected that indirect litter effects on vegetation (here Schedonorus or Rhinanthus) vary depending on soil moisture. We measured Schedonorus and Rhinanthus aboveground biomass and C stable isotope signature (delta C-13) as response variables. Overall, Schedonorus attained similar biomass under moist conditions with Rhinanthus as in pots under dry conditions without Rhinanthus. Presence of Rhinanthus also increased delta C-13 in moist pots, indicating hemiparasite-induced water stress. Litter presence increased Schedonorus biomass and reduced delta C-13, indicating improved water availability. Plants under dry conditions with litter showed similar biomass as under wet conditions without litter. Hemiparasites and litter had opposite effects: hemiparasites reduced Schedonorus biomass while litter presence facilitated grass growth. Contrary to our expectations, litter did not compensate Schedonorus biomass when Rhinanthus was present.

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