Understorey Plants (understorey + plant)

Distribution by Scientific Domains

Selected Abstracts

Understorey plant and soil responses to disturbance and increased nitrogen in boreal forests

O.H. Manninen
Abstract Question: How do N fertilization and disturbance affect the understorey vegetation, microbial properties and soil nutrient concentration in boreal forests? Location: Kuusamo (6622,N; 2918,E) and Oulu (6502,N; 2547,E) in northern Finland. Methods: We conducted a fully factorial experiment with three factors: site (two levels), N fertilization (four levels) and disturbance (two levels). We measured treatment effects on understorey biomass, vegetation structure, and plant, soil and microbial N and C concentrations. Results: The understorey biomass was not affected by fertilization either in the control or in the disturbance treatment. Fertilization reduced the biomass of deciduous Vaccinium myrtillus. Disturbance had a negative effect on the biomass of V. myrtillus and evergreen Vaccinium vitis-idaea and decreased the relative proportion of evergreen species. Fertilization and disturbance increased the biomass of grass Deschampsia flexuosa and the relative proportion of graminoids. The amount of NH4+ increased in soil after fertilization, and microbial C decreased after disturbance. Conclusions: Our results suggest that the growth of slow-growing Vaccinium species and soil microbes in boreal forests are not limited by N availability. However, significant changes in the proportion of dwarf shrubs to graminoids and a decrease in the biomass of V. myrtillus demonstrate the susceptibility of understorey vegetation to N enrichment. N enrichment and disturbance seem to have similar effects on understorey vegetation. Consequently, increasing N does not affect the rate or the direction of recovery after disturbance. Moreover, our study demonstrates the importance of understorey vegetation as a C source for soil microbes in boreal forests. [source]

Morphological variation of Aechmea distichantha (Bromeliaceae) in a Chaco forest: habitat and size-related effects

PLANT BIOLOGY, Issue 3 2009
L. Cavallero
Abstract Plants show different morphologies when growing in different habitats, but they also vary in their morphology with plant size. We examined differences in sun- and shade-grown plants of the bromeliad Aechmea distichantha with respect to relationships between plant size and variables related to plant architecture, biomass allocation and tank water dynamics. We selected vegetative plants from the understorey and from forest edges of a Chaco forest, encompassing the whole size range of this bromeliad. Plant biomass was positively correlated with most architectural variables and negatively correlated with most biomass allocation variables. Understorey plants were taller and had larger diameters, whereas sun plants had more leaves, larger sheath area, sheath biomass and sheath mass fraction. All tank water-related variables were positively correlated with plant biomass. Understorey plants had a greater projected leaf area, whereas sun plants had higher water content and evaporative area. Plasticity indices were higher for water-related than for allocation variables. In conclusion, there were architectural and biomass allocation differences between sun- and shade-grown plants along a size gradient, which, in turn, affected tank water-related variables. [source]

Light gains and physiological capacity of understorey woody plants during phenological avoidance of canopy shade

Summary 1Carbon gain during phenological avoidance of canopy shade by an understorey plant depends on the extent of avoidance, the leaf stage during avoidance, and whether young and old leaves can exploit greater light availability in spring and autumn. 2For Asimina triloba (L.) Dunal., Aesculus glabra Willd., Acer saccharum Marsh., Lindera benzoin (L.) Blume and Carpinus caroliniana Walt. in a deciduous forest in Illinois, USA, spring avoidance with leaves at full size ranged from 0 days for Asimina to 24 days for Aesculus, and brought 36,98% of estimated total annual irradiance. Autumn avoidance was non-existent to minimal in all species. 3Total chlorophyll reached maximum concentrations at the middle of leaf life span, and declined well before senescence. Leaf nitrogen concentrations and net photosynthetic capacity both peaked in youngest leaves during spring avoidance, and were low in old leaves during autumn avoidance. 4Aesculus had especially high photosynthetic capacity during precanopy closure, while Asimina had relatively low capacity in its later developing leaves. 5Young leaves of species with phenological avoidance can enhance C gain, while old leaves in autumn do not. Thus phenological avoidance in spring may enhance the persistence of understorey woody individuals of some species. [source]

A dendro-ecological study of forest overstorey productivity following the invasion of the non-indigenous shrub Lonicera maackii

K.M. Hartman
Gleason & Cronquist (1991) for vascular plants Abstract Question: Will a non-indigenous, invasive, understorey shrub, such as Lonicera maackii (Amur honeysuckle) have an impact on the productivity of overstorey trees in hardwood forests? Location: Trees from 12 invaded and four non-invaded sites were sampled in hardwood forests of southwestern Ohio, US. Methods: Changes in radial and basal area tree growth in the ten years prior to L. maackii invasion vs. ten years after invasion were examined using dendrochronological techniques. Intervention analysis was used to detect growth changes 25 years prior to and 25 years following invasion, and estimates of load impacts for L. maackii population and biomass were also calculated. Results: We found that the rate of radial and basal area growth of overstorey trees was reduced significantly in eleven out of twelve invaded sites. Non-invaded sites did not exhibit this consistent pattern of reduced growth. For invaded vs. non-invaded sites, the mean basal area growth was reduced by 15.8%, and the overall rate of basal area growth was reduced by 53.1%. Intervention analysis revealed that the first significant growth reductions were 6.25 1.24 (mean SE) years after invasion with the greatest frequency of negative growth changes occurring 20 years after invasion. In invaded stands, 41% of trees experienced negative growth changes. In terms of invasive load estimates per 1000 L. maackii individuals, radial tree growth was reduced by 0.56 mm.a,1, and basal area growth was reduced by 0.74 cm2.a,1, Given these findings, significant economic losses could occur in hardwood forests of Ohio. Conclusions: To our knowledge, this is the first study using dendrochronological techniques to investigate the impact of a non-indigenous, understorey plant on overstorey tree growth. Active management will likely be needed to maintain forest productivity in L. maackii impacted landscapes. [source]

Overstorey tree species regulate colonization by native and exotic plants: a source of positive relationships between understorey diversity and invasibility

Kathleen S. Knight
ABSTRACT The North American woody species, Prunus serotina Ehrh., is an aggressive invader of forest understories in Europe. To better understand the plant invasion process, we assessed understorey plants and Prunus serotina seedlings that have colonized a 35-year-old replicated common-garden experiment of 14 tree species in south-western Poland. The density and size of established (> 1 year old) P. serotina seedlings varied among overstorey species and were related to variation in light availability and attributes of the understorey layer. In a multiple regression analysis, the density of established P. serotina seedlings was positively correlated with light availability and understorey species richness and negatively correlated with understorey species cover. These results suggest that woody invader success is adversely affected by overstorey shading and understorey competition for resources. Simultaneously, however, invader success may generally be positively associated with understorey species richness because both native and invasive plant colonization respond similarly to environmental conditions, including those influenced by overstorey tree species. Identification of characteristics of forests that increase their susceptibility to invasion may allow managers to target efforts to detect invasives and to restore forests to states that may be less invasible. [source]

Arbuscular mycorrhizal propagule densities respond rapidly to ponderosa pine restoration treatments

Julie E. Korb
Summary 1Mycorrhizae form a critical link between above-ground plants and the soil system by influencing plant nutrition, nutrient cycling and soil structure. Understanding how mycorrhizae respond to disturbances may lead to important advances in interpreting above-ground plant recovery. 2The inoculum potential for arbuscular mycorrhizae (AM) and ectomycorrhizal (EM) fungi was investigated in thinned-only, thinned and prescribed burned (both restoration treatments) and unthinned and unburned control stands in northern Arizona ponderosa pine forests. The relationships between mycorrhizal fungal propagule densities and plant community and soil properties were quantified. 3The relative amount of infective propagules of AM fungi was significantly higher in samples collected from both restoration treatments than their paired controls (unthinned and unburned stands). In contrast, the same restoration treatments had no significant effect on the relative amount of infective propagules of EM fungi. 4The relative amount of infective propagules of AM fungi was significantly positively correlated with graminoid cover and herbaceous understorey species richness and negatively correlated with overstorey tree canopy cover and litter cover. 5Synthesis and applications. These results indicate that population densities of AM fungi can rapidly increase following restoration treatments in northern Arizona ponderosa pine forests. This has important implications for restoring the herbaceous understorey of these forests because most understorey plants depend on AM associations for normal growth. These results also can be applied to other ecosystems that are in a state of restoration or where the role of fire is just beginning to be understood. [source]

Seed limitation in a Panamanian forest

Summary 1The role of seed limitation in tropical forests remains uncertain owing to the scarcity of experimental evidence. We performed seed addition experiments to assess seed limitation for 32 shade-tolerant tropical forest species and monitored the natural seed rain of 25 of these species for 17 years. 2One, two or five seeds were sown into 0.0079-m2 plots for large- (n = 5 species), medium- (n = 5) and small-seeded species (n = 22), respectively. The experiment was replicated at 69 sites, placed in groups of three at 23 locations. Seedling establishment was evaluated after 1 and 2 years in paired seed addition and control plots. Natural seedling emergence and understorey plant density were also measured. 3Median natural seed rain was 0.31 seeds m,2 year,1 per focal species. 4Seed addition enhanced seedling establishment in 31 and 26 of the 32 species after 1 and 2 years, respectively. Mean number of focal species' seedlings after 2 years was 0.002 seedlings in control plots and 0.12, 0.37 and 0.60 seedlings in seed addition plots for large-, medium- and small-seeded species, respectively. 5A 25 seeds added treatment increased seedling establishment by , 2.0-fold over the five seeds added treatment after 2 years. 6Community-wide recruitment and understorey plant density were strongly seed-limited. The natural density of understorey plants averaged 12 plants m,2 and was significantly less than for seedlings of the single focal species in plots with , 2 seeds added 2 years earlier. 7The number of established seedlings per seed added was independent of seed size. 8Treatment (adding zero or five seeds), species identity and location all affected seedling establishment for the 11 small-seeded species represented at all sites, with treatment and its interactions accounting for 86% of the explained variation. 9Our results suggest that seed limitation plays a dominant role in seedling recruitment and understorey plant community assembly in tropical forests. Although strong seed limitation may set the stage for species-neutral community assembly, the species differences in seedling establishment rate and its spatial variation demonstrate an important role for species-specific processes. [source]

Spatial patterns of desert annuals in relation to shrub effects on soil moisture

J. Li
Abstract Questions: What are the effects of a shrub (Haloxylon ammodendron) on spatial patterns of soil moisture in different seasons? How does productivity of understorey annuals respond to these effects? Are such effects always positive for annuals under shrubs? Location: South Gurbantunggut Desert, northwest China. Methods: Using geostatistics, we explored seasonal patterns of topsoil moisture in a 12 9-m plot over the growing season. To determine spatial patterns of understorey annuals in response to H. ammodendron presence, biomass of annuals was recorded in four 0.2 5.0-m transects from the centre of a shrub to the space between shrubs (interspace). We also investigated vertical distribution of root biomass for annuals and soil moisture dynamics across soil profiles in shrub-canopied areas and interspaces. Results: Topsoil moisture changed from autocorrelation in the wet spring to random structure in the dry season, while soil moisture below 20 cm was higher in shrub-canopied areas. Across all microhabitats, soil moisture in upper soil layers was higher than in deeper soil layers during the spring wet season, but lower during summer drought. Topsoil was close to air-dry during the dry season and developed a ,dry sand layer' that reduced evaporative loss of soil water from deeper layers recharged by snowmelt in spring. Aboveground biomass of understorey annuals was lowest adjacent to shrub stems and peaked at the shrub margin, forming a ,ring' of high herbaceous productivity surrounding individual shrubs. To acclimate to drier conditions, annuals in interspaces invested more root biomass in deeper soil with a root/shoot ratio (R/S) twice that in canopied areas. Conclusions: Positive and negative effects of shrubs on understorey plants in arid ecosystems are commonly related to nature of the environmental stress and tested species. Our results suggest there is also microhabitat-dependence in the Gurbantunggut Desert. Soil water under H. ammodendron is seasonally enriched in topsoil and deeper layers. Understorey annuals respond to the effect of shrubs on soil water availability with lower R/S and less root biomass in deeper soil layers and develop a ,ring' of high productivity at the shrub patch margin where positive and negative effects of shrubs are balanced. [source]