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Allelopathic effects of Ceratiola ericoides (Empetraceae) on germination and survival of six Florida scrub species

Hewitt, Rebecca E., Menges, Eric S.
Plant ecology 2008 v.198 no.1 pp. 47-59
Ericaceae, Hypericum, allelopathy, ecosystems, germination, greenhouses, habitats, leachates, leaves, models, roots, rosemary, sand, seedlings, shrublands, Florida
Allelopathic inhibition of germination by Florida scrub plants has been demonstrated in the greenhouse and lab, but not in the field. We studied the allelopathic effects of Florida rosemary (Ceratiola ericoides) roots, leaves, and litter leachates on field germination and three-month survival of six Florida scrub species, three habitat generalists (Lechea deckertii, Palafoxia feayi, and Polygonella robusta), and three rosemary scrub specialists (Hypericum cumulicola, Lechea cernua, and Polygonella basiramia). We used AIC and model averaging to evaluate support for a series of non-exclusive hypotheses. Species varied in germination (2.7-24.6%) and survival (39.2-71%) percentages, and in their sensitivity to leachates. Germination of scrub species was most negatively affected by leaf > root > litter leachates, although not all species followed the overall trend. Additional germination suppression by leachate combinations (relative to single leachates) was minimal. Sites did not vary in germination, but seedling survival did differ among sites. This study further documents the negative impact of Florida rosemary leachates on the germination of co-occurring plant species. Allelopathy may be partly responsible for bare sand gaps in Florida rosemary scrub, and therefore be one of the forces structuring Florida rosemary scrub ecosystems.