Two subalpine dwarf-shrub heath communities with differing levels of soil nutrient availability were subjected to a 3-year experimental manipulation, including nutrient addition or removal of one of the two co-dominant species from each community. The main objective of our study was to assess the relative importance of interspecific competition versus nutrient limitation in relation to soil fertility. We also aimed to investigate if and to what extent current-year shoot size, leaf-based rates of net photosynthesis and foliar nutrient status accounted for the observed changes in the aboveground biomass of the shrubs. At the end of the experiment, neighbour removal increased the aboveground biomass of all shrubs, especially in the more fertile community, while fertilization did not. We concluded that: (1) competition is more effective than nutrient limitation in structuring the vegetation of subalpine heathlands; and (2) competition intensity is stronger in the more fertile community. The observed patterns of variations in aboveground biomass were not consistently related to net photosynthetic rates, size of individual shoots and foliar nutrient status. Hence, we also concluded that the growth response of dwarf shrubs to altered environmental conditions is primarily determined by developmental plasticity.

Nutrient and carbon relations in subalpine dwarf shrubs after neighbour removal or fertilization in northern Italy

GERDOL, Renato;BRANCALEONI, Lisa;MARCHESINI, Roberta;BRAGAZZA, Luca
2002

Abstract

Two subalpine dwarf-shrub heath communities with differing levels of soil nutrient availability were subjected to a 3-year experimental manipulation, including nutrient addition or removal of one of the two co-dominant species from each community. The main objective of our study was to assess the relative importance of interspecific competition versus nutrient limitation in relation to soil fertility. We also aimed to investigate if and to what extent current-year shoot size, leaf-based rates of net photosynthesis and foliar nutrient status accounted for the observed changes in the aboveground biomass of the shrubs. At the end of the experiment, neighbour removal increased the aboveground biomass of all shrubs, especially in the more fertile community, while fertilization did not. We concluded that: (1) competition is more effective than nutrient limitation in structuring the vegetation of subalpine heathlands; and (2) competition intensity is stronger in the more fertile community. The observed patterns of variations in aboveground biomass were not consistently related to net photosynthetic rates, size of individual shoots and foliar nutrient status. Hence, we also concluded that the growth response of dwarf shrubs to altered environmental conditions is primarily determined by developmental plasticity.
2002
Gerdol, Renato; Brancaleoni, Lisa; Marchesini, Roberta; Bragazza, Luca
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11392/1203576
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