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  • 1.
    Eckstein, Rolf Lutz
    et al.
    Justus-Liebig-University Giessen.
    Otte, Annette
    Justus-Liebig-University Giessen.
    Evidence for consistent trait-habitat relations in two closely related violets of contiguous habitat types from a fertilisation experiment2004In: Flora: Morphologie, Geobotanik, Oekophysiologie, ISSN 0367-2530, E-ISSN 1618-0585, Vol. 199, no 3, p. 234-246Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Most studies on the adaptive significance of plant traits compared species that differed in inherent growth rate or species of habitats at the extremes of environmental gradients. In the present paper, we compared the response of Viola elatior and V. pumila, two closely related and morphologically similar violets to the experimental variation of nitrogen availability. The species occur in adjacent habitat types, viz. alluvial forest fringes (V. elatior) and floodplain meadows (V. pumila), that differ in resource availability and disturbance across a relatively small gradient. We tested the hypotheses that, according to their typical habitat, V. elatior should show more traits of a stress tolerant competitive plant, while V. pumila should exhibit more ruderal traits. We carried out a two-year common garden experiment with two levels of fertiliser addition (N5, 5 g N m(-2) yr(-1); N20, 20 g N m(-2) yr(-1)), and analysed a number of traits related to relative growth rate (RGR), allocation, and nutrient use. We further did an experiment with seeds from the experimental plants to study variation in germination rate. We found considerable ontogenetic drift in the species during two years of growth. In the first year, both species showed similar mass and growth rate but these were achieved through different trait combinations. In the second year, V. elatior had a higher RGR, produced more biomass per unit nutrient and developed more leaf area per unit plant mass than V. pumila, while the latter produced thinner leaves. V. pumila had a higher capacity for nutrient acquisition, but a large proportion of the captured nutrients were used for reproduction. Germination rate was higher in V. pumila than in V. elatior, independent of the nutrient status of the mother plant, while seeds of V. elatior from N20 plants had a significantly higher germination rate (67%) than seeds from N5 plants (35%). Our data suggested that many of the analysed trait differences seem to be consistent with the requirements of the different habitat types.

  • 2.
    Hensgen, Frank
    et al.
    Justus-Liebig-University, Giessen, Germany.
    Albrecht, Christian
    Justus-Liebig-University, Giessen, Germany.
    Donath, Tobias W.
    Justus-Liebig-University Giessen, Germany.
    Otte, Annette
    Justus-Liebig-University Giessen, Germany.
    Eckstein, Rolf Lutz
    Karlstad University, Faculty of Health, Science and Technology (starting 2013), Department of Environmental and Life Sciences. Justus-Liebig-University Giessen, Germany.
    Distribution of gastropods in floodplain compartments and feeding preferences for river corridor plant species: Is there an effect of gastropod herbivory on the distribution of river corridor plants?2011In: Flora: Morphologie, Geobotanik, Oekophysiologie, ISSN 0367-2530, E-ISSN 1618-0585, Vol. 206, no 6, p. 534-543Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Herbivory through gastropods has among others been proposed as a potential factor responsible for the river corridor distribution of plant species, which is a well known but poorly understood ecological pattern. Since floodplains are characterised by seasonally changing abiotic conditions, viz, floods during winter and spring and severe summer drought that are unsuitable for gastropods they may present safe habitats for highly palatable plant species. In the present study we compared species composition of gastropods and vegetation of twelve grassland sites situated within three floodplain compartments along the Upper Rhine. Additionally, we studied the palatability of 7 days and 25 days old seedlings of five typical floodplain plant species and five mesic grassland species to the slug Deroceras reticulatum in laboratory experiments. Our results showed that both vegetation and gastropod community composition but not gastropod diversity and abundance differed between floodplain compartments. Owing to omnivory of most gastropods the similarity structure of sites based on plants and gastropods was not significantly correlated. In general, slug herbivory significantly reduced survival and biomass of 7 days old seedlings, but responses were species-specific. In contrast, with the exception of Arabis nemorensis, Viola pumila and Taraxacum sect. Ruderalia biomass of 25 days old seedlings was not significantly affected by slug herbivory. Although the response of floodplain plant species as a group to slug herbivory did not differ from common grassland species, our results suggest that gastropods may potentially influence the distribution pattern of the highly palatable river corridor species Arabis nemorensis and Viola pumila. However, further research is needed to estimate the damage to river corridor plants through gastropod herbivory and its effect on competitive relationships under natural conditions.

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