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Effects of soil heterogeneity and clonal integration on Alternanthera philoxeroides populations with a radial ramet aggregation
- Liu, Lu, Dong, Bi‐Cheng
- Plant species biology 2017 v.32 no.3 pp. 189-199
- Alternanthera philoxeroides, edaphic factors, labor, soil heterogeneity, soil nutrients
- Some clonal plants can spread their ramet populations radially, and soil heterogeneity and clonal integration may greatly affect the establishment of these types of populations. We constructed Alternanthera philoxeroides populations with a radial ramet aggregation, allowing old ramets of clonal fragments to concentrate in central pots and younger ramets to root in peripheral pots. The peripheral pots were supplemented either with three different levels (high, medium and low) of soil nutrients to simulate a heterogeneous soil environment, or only one medium level of soil nutrients to simulate a homogeneous environment. Stolon connections between the central older ramets and the peripheral younger ramets were left intact or severed to test the effect of clonal integration. The maintenance of stolon connection could induce the division of labor between different‐aged ramets, by increasing the root investment in central ramets and the above‐ground growth in peripheral ramets. The maintenance of stolon connection could improve the growth of the central and peripheral ramets, clonal fragments and even the whole population. However, the positive consequence in peripheral ramets and whole fragments was only detected in the high‐nutrient patch of heterogeneous treatment. In sum, in the population with the radial ramet aggregation, clonal integration can play a key role in the rapid recruitment of young ramets of A. philoxeroides fragments, as well as the expansion of the whole population. The magnitude of clonal integration also became more obvious in the peripheral young ramets and whole fragments that experienced high‐nutrient patches.