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Clonal plant Duchesnea indica Focke forms an effective survival strategy in different degrees of Pb-contaminated environments

Quan, Jiaxin, Zhang, Xiaoyin, Song, Shanshan, Dang, Han, Chai, Yongfu, Yue, Ming, Liu, Xiao
Plant ecology 2018 v.219 no.11 pp. 1315-1327
Duchesnea indica, aboveground biomass, cadmium, clones, copper, greenhouse experimentation, habitat preferences, labor, lead, plant growth, pollution, progeny, risk, roots, soil, toxicity
Clonal plants in heterogeneous environments can benefit from habitat selection, giving them the ability to utilize patchily distributed resources efficiently. However, most research is conducted in a resource heterogeneous environment, and the study of heterogeneous environment of non-resource material (copper, cadmium, lead, and so on) is limited. Research into clonal plant growth under heterogeneous toxic conditions could contribute to our understanding of the strategy of the selective establishment pattern. Thus, we examined clonal growth in a heterogeneous lead environment to enhance understanding of habitat selection strategies. The growth indices (stolon-length, ramet number, biomass, and lead-concentrations) of Duchesnea indica were examined under three levels (low, moderate, and high were represented by 0, 50 and 100%) of lead contamination and two degrees of heterogeneity (low and high heterogeneity under moderate contamination) environments in a glasshouse study. Habitat selection strategy was analyzed by clone growth pattern, labor division, and risk-spreading. The clones under the moderate contamination level, especially with high heterogeneity, demonstrated the optimal growth. They expanded their growth-pattern to escape the toxic environment, and rooted more ramets in the unpolluted patches, allocating more aboveground biomass to these areas. Moreover, parent ramets transported their lead in the soil to the offspring. The offspring spread the toxic risk by accumulating lead in their roots and producing more ramets. Optimal growth of clonal plants occurred in environments moderately contaminated with lead, especially under higher heterogeneity, which performed effective survival strategy by expensive growth architecture, aboveground biomass increase and risk-spreading.