Natural Plant Communities (natural + plant_community)

Distribution by Scientific Domains

Selected Abstracts

The effect of initial seed density on the structure of a desert annual plant community

Christopher J. Lortie
Summary 1,Few experiments directly test the role of density dependence in natural plant communities. 2,We tested (i) whether different initial seed densities of the entire seed bank of an annual plant community affected performance (emergence, mean plant biomass and survival) and (ii) whether density-dependent processes were operating within the communities. We also tested whether life-stage, year and soil moisture (both on a topographic gradient and in an experimental manipulation) influenced the effects of seed density. 3,We considered two distinct phases: seed to emergent seedlings, and emergent seedlings to established plants. 4,The seed bank was collected from a semistabilized sand dune in the Negev Desert, Israel. This was added to sieved sand in plots at the same site at four different initial seed densities: 1/16×, 1/4×, 1× (natural seed density) and 2×. The experiment was repeated for three consecutive growing seasons. 5,Emergence of seedlings was significantly influenced by initial seed density in all 3 years, with higher initial seed densities having lower rates of emergence. 6,Mean final plant size was negatively density dependent and consistently unaffected by the initial seed density sown. 7,In general, there were no strong interactions of topographic position with initial seed density, processes within the vegetation were not density dependent and the experimental addition of water did not influence any of the performance measures tested. Density-dependent processes vary from year to year, while moisture effects do not. 8,We conclude that seedling emergence and some processes in the established plant community are density dependent, but the established plant community is also affected by other processes, such as resource limitation. [source]

Changes in plant communities over three decades on two disturbed bogs in southeastern Québec

S. Pellerin
Abstract Questions: Have the natural plant communities of two mined bogs experienced changes in composition and richness over a three-decade period, and are these changes associated with anthropogenic disturbances? Location: Bas-Saint-Laurent region, southeastern Québec, Canada. Methods: We monitored three decades of floristic changes in two disturbed bogs by revisiting 57 plots in 1998, which were previously sampled in 1965 and 1966. Changes in species richness and composition were evaluated using Wilcoxon signed rank tests, principal component analysis and partial redundancy analyses (pRDA). We also used pRDA and an indicator species analysis to determine which species had undergone the greatest changes over time. Variation partitioning was used to evaluate the relative influence of human disturbance in compositional change. Results: The main changes in the vegetation of the two bogs were 1) a decrease of overall species diversity, 2) an increase in the percent cover of trees and of species tolerant of shade or drought, and 3) a decrease in the cover of heliophilous species. Picea mariana, Sphagnum fuscum and Pleurozium schreberi increased in percent cover while Chamaedaphne calyculata and Sphagnum rubellum decreased in percent cover. Variation partitioning suggested that human activities had a significant impact on vegetation composition. Conclusion: The results indicated that substantial changes occurred in the vegetation of the natural fragments of these severely disturbed bogs. Although human activities were partially responsible for the changes, our study suggested that the drying of the peat surface due to drought during the 1960s and 1980s may have contributed to the vegetation changes. [source]

Adjustment of leaf photosynthesis to shade in a natural canopy: rate parameters

ABSTRACT The present study was performed to investigate the adjustment of the rate parameters of the light and dark reactions of photosynthesis to the natural growth light in leaves of an overstorey species, Betula pendula Roth, a subcanopy species, Tilia cordata P. Mill., and a herb, Solidago virgaurea L., growing in a natural plant community in Järvselja, Estonia. Shoots were collected from the site and individual leaves were measured in a laboratory applying a standardized routine of kinetic gas exchange, Chl fluorescence and 820 nm transmittance measurements. These measurements enabled the calculations of the quantum yield of photosynthesis and rate constants of excitation capture by photochemical and non-photochemical quenchers, rate constant for P700+ reduction via the cytochrome b6f complex with and without photosynthetic control, actual maximum and potential (uncoupled) electron transport rate, stomatal and mesophyll resistances for CO2 transport, Km(CO2) and Vm of ribulose-bisphosphate carboxylase-oxygenase (Rubisco) in vivo. In parallel, N, Chl and Rubisco contents were measured from the same leaves. No adjustment toward higher quantum yield in shade compared with sun leaves was observed, although relatively more N was partitioned to the light-harvesting machinery in shade leaves (H. Eichelmann et al., 2004). The electron transport rate through the Cyt b6f complex was strongly down-regulated under saturating light compared with darkness, and this was observed under atmospheric, as well as saturating CO2 concentration. In vivo Vm measurements of Rubisco were lower than corresponding reported measurements in vitro, and the kcat per reaction site varied widely between leaves and growth sites. The correlation between Rubisco Vm and the photosystem I density was stronger than between Vm and the density of Rubisco active sites. The results showed that the capacity of the photosynthetic machinery decreases in shade-adjusted leaves, but it still remains in excess of the actual photosynthetic rate. The photosynthetic control systems that are targeted to adjust the photosynthetic rate to meet the plant's needs and to balance the partial reactions of photosynthesis, down-regulate partial processes of photosynthesis: excess harvested light is quenched non-photochemically; excess electron transport capacity of Cyt b6f is down-regulated by ,pH-dependent photosynthetic control; Rubisco is synthesized in excess, and the number of activated Rubisco molecules is controlled by photosystem I-related processes. Consequently, the nitrogen contained in the components of the photosynthetic machinery is not used at full efficiency. The strong correlation between leaf nitrogen and photosynthetic performance is not due to the nitrogen requirements of the photosynthetic apparatus, but because a certain amount of energy must be captured through photosynthesis to maintain this nitrogen within a leaf. [source]

Adjustment of leaf photosynthesis to shade in a natural canopy: reallocation of nitrogen

ABSTRACT The present study was performed to investigate the adjustment of the constituents of the light and dark reactions of photosynthesis to the natural growth irradiance in the leaves of an overstorey species, Betula pendula Roth, a subcanopy species Tilia cordata P. Mill., and a herb Solidago virgaurea L. growing in a natural plant community in Järvselja, Estonia. Shoots were collected from the site and properties of individual leaves were measured in a laboratory, by applying a routine of kinetic gas exchange and optical measurements that revealed photosystem II (PSII), photosystem I (PSI), and cytochrome b6f densities per leaf area and the distribution of excitation (or chlorophyll, Chl) between the two photosystems. In parallel, N, Chl and ribulose-bisphosphate carboxylase-oxygenase (Rubisco) content was measured from the same leaves. The amount of N in photosynthetic proteins was calculated from the measured contents of the components of the photosynthetic machinery. Non-photosynthetic N was found as the residual of the budget. Growth in shade resulted in the decrease of leaf dry mass to a half of the DW in sun leaves in each species, but the total variation, from the top to the bottom of the canopy, was larger. Through the whole cross-section of the canopy, leaf dry weight (DW) and Rubisco content per area decreased by a factor of four, N content by a factor of three, but Chl content only by a factor of 1.7. PSII density decreased by a factor of 1.9, but PSI density by a factor of 3.2. The density of PSI adjusted to shade to a greater extent than the density of PSII. In shade, the distribution of N between the components of the photosynthetic machinery was shifted toward light-harvesting proteins at the expense of Rubisco. Non-photosynthetic N decreased the most substantially, from 54% in the sun leaves of B. pendula to 11% in the shade leaves of T. cordata. It is concluded that the redistribution of N toward light-harvesting Chl proteins in shade is not sufficient to keep the excitation rate of a PSII centre invariant. Contrary to PSII, the density of PSI , the photosystem that is in immediate contact with the carbon assimilation system , shade-adjusts almost proportionally with the latter, whereas its Chl antenna correspondingly increases. Even under N deficiency, a likely condition in the natural plant community, a substantial part of N is stored in non-photosynthetic proteins under abundant irradiation, but much less under limiting irradiation. At least in trees the general sequence of down-regulation due to shade adjustment is the following: (1) non-protein cell structures and non-photosynthetic proteins; (2) carbon assimilation proteins; (3) light reaction centre proteins, first PSI; and (4) chlorophyll-binding proteins. [source]