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Three California annual forbs show little response to neighbor removal
- Espeland, E.K.
- Journal of arid environments 2013 v.88 pp. 121
- Clarkia, Plantago, biomass production, developmental stages, growing season, plant competition, plant development, semiarid zones, California
- In semi-arid systems, competition among plants has limited effects on performance compared to facilitative interactions and abiotic factors. However, the balance between competition and facilitation can change over the course of plant development. Determining when each interaction is important for plant productivity allows us to identify factors limiting plant growth. In this field study, neighbor removal mid-way through the growing season did not result in a size change for any species (Clarkia purpurea, Plantago erecta, and Micropus californicus) in the first year. In the second year, two species had greater biomass when neighbors were removed very early in the growing season, indicating a competitive effect. The third species neither benefited nor suffered from neighbor removal. In some years, P. erecta and M. californicus may be negatively affected by competition at early growth stages and are later unable to capitalize on newly-available resources after removals of competitors. This study shows that early-stage competition can drive biomass production in some annual plants, even in semi-arid systems.