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Eco-coenotic conditions and structure of Trollius europaeus L. populations in an extrazonal habitat complex (Transylvanian Carpathian foothills)

Muncaciu, Sorana, Gafta, Dan, Cristea, Vasile, Roşca-Casian, Oana, Goia, Irina
Flora 2010 v.205 no.11 pp. 711-720
sward, juveniles, valleys, population structure, fens, shrublands, community structure, indicator species, hosts, soil water, canopy gaps, species diversity, light, nitrogen, flowers, environmental factors, Trollius europaeus, habitats, seed dispersal, Romania, Central European region
To estimate the importance of community structure and environmental factors for maintenance and in situ conservation of populations of European Globeflower (Trollius europaeus subsp. europaeus) in four sites (one within a natural reserve) in a low elevation but cool valley of the Transylvanian Carpathian foothills, an inventory of all globeflower individuals was performed and floristic relevés were recorded in different community types (meadow, fen and scrub). As a surrogate for habitat conditions, we used plant species indicator values for light, moisture and nitrogen. Globeflower density is highest in mesic habitats, the ecological optimum estimated (about 6 on Ellenberg's scale) being slightly lower than that indicated for Central Europe (7). The juvenile:fertile plants ratio (J:F) declines with increasing soil moisture. Larger flower production in hygrophilous communities does not result in a higher proportion of juveniles or J:F ratio. Despite the presumed strong competition determined by high species richness in some host communities, the most dynamic population (large proportion of juveniles) was found in mesophilous, mown meadows. A clumped distribution of fertile plants under the open scrub canopy seems to be responsible for the significantly larger number of flowers per individual observed, as compared with the relative amount of flowers produced in the adjacent sward. Irrespective of host community, the juveniles display an aggregated distribution with respect to fertile plants, which is probably related to short-distance dispersal of seeds. Our results reveal the importance of host community species richness and soil moisture for the target population stage structure and reproductive investment.