Understory Plants (understory + plant)

Distribution by Scientific Domains

Selected Abstracts

Determinants of Lichen Diversity in a Rain Forest Understory

BIOTROPICA, Issue 4 2007
L. A. Dyer
ABSTRACT Change in lichen diversity is often used as a bioindicator to estimate effects of atmospheric pollution, but natural variation in lichen cover and species richness can be very high. We examined the top-down effects of spore-consuming ants and the bottom-up effects of nutrient and light availability on lichen diversity associated with the leaf surface of the rain forest understory plant, Piper cenocladum. Plots containing P. cenocladum were randomly assigned to treatments in factorial experiments that included high and low light levels, nutrient enrichment, and presence and absence of the ant mutualist, Pheidole bicornis. At the conclusion of the experiments, plants were harvested and size of leaves, secondary metabolite content (amides), epiphyll cover, and the species richness of the lichens (which comprised 85% of the epiphyll community) were quantified. Epiphyll cover (mosses, liverworts, and lichens) was greater on plants that had ant-mutualists and balanced resources. Lichen species richness was greater for plants with balanced resources, particularly for those with high light availability. Relationships between toxins and lichen cover and richness were weak and unclear. In this system, natural sources of variation were reliable determinants of lichen diversity and both biotic and abiotic influences were important. [source]

Foliar susceptibility of eastern oak species to Phytophthora infection

Y. Balci
Summary Seven different Phytophthora species were used to test the foliar susceptibility of the common eastern US oak species and understory plants to Phytophthora infection. The Phytophthora species employed were Phytophthora cambivora, Phytophthora cinnamomi, Phytophthora citricola, Phytophthora europaea, Phytophthora quercetorum, Phytophthora quercina -like and Phytophthora sp1. Inoculation of detached-leaves with agar plugs containing mycelia of Phytophthora provided an estimate of their relative susceptibility. Lesions were always greater when foliage was wounded and young. On deciduous plants, lesion sizes were considerably reduced with the increasing foliar age, although with evergreen plants lesion sizes remained similar regardless of foliar age when more aggressive isolates were tested. Infections seldom resulted when foliage was not wounded. With young and mature foliage, P. citricola usually produced the largest lesions. Young foliage of Quercus rubra was the most susceptible to infection followed by Castanea dentata for both wounded and non-wounded inoculations. Mature foliage of Hamamelis virginiana, Kalmia latifolia and Quercus alba were the most susceptible to wound and non-wound inoculations. [source]

A comparison of taiga flora in north-eastern Russia and Alaska/Yukon

David K. Swanson
Abstract Aim, To understand the similarities and differences between the taiga floras of far north-eastern Asia and north-western North America in the light of their Tertiary and Quaternary histories. Does the taiga flora follow the tundra pattern (Asian,American commonality of species as a result of continuity through the Quaternary), the temperate forest pattern (distinct species because of late Tertiary disjunction), a combination of these two patterns, or some pattern unique to the taiga? Location, The taiga regions of interior Alaska and the Yukon in North America (the ,Alaskan taiga'), and the Kolyma and eastern Indigirka River basins in Russia (the ,Kolyma taiga'). The study areas include both forested and unforested habitats below elevational treeline. The two regions have similar climate and topography and were linked via the Bering Land Bridge in the Tertiary and for several extended periods during Quaternary cold periods. Methods, Systematic comparison of the vascular floras of the two regions from published sources; and review of palaeoecological literature for the region. Results, Of the 796 species found in the study areas, 27% occur only in the Alaskan taiga, 35% occur only in the Kolyma taiga, and 38% occur in both the regions. The following subsets of species show a high proportion of species in common between the study areas (subsets are not mutually exclusive): plants that occur on the tundra and the taiga, non-flowering plants, abundant taiga understory plants, and wetland and aquatic plants. A lower proportion of shared plants was noted for warm, south-facing steppe communities. No tree species are common to both areas. Main conclusions, The Bering Strait region in the Quaternary has acted as a biogeographical filter for taiga plants. Significant divergence between northeast Asia and northwest North America has developed among the more southerly ranging fraction of the flora (e.g. trees), while the more cosmopolitan and the most cold-adapted elements of the taiga flora are common to both areas. Many plants in the former group have been disjunct between Asia and North America for millions of years, while many plants in the latter group have probably maintained continuity between the study areas via the Bering Land Bridge through much of the late Tertiary and Quaternary periods. Repeated extirpation of the less cold-adapted species from both study areas during Pleistocene cold periods has probably enhanced floristic differences between the two regions. [source]

Effect of Hydrologic Restoration and Lonicera maackii Removal on Herbaceous Understory Vegetation in a Bottomland Hardwood Forest

Rebecca M. Swab
Abstract Amur honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii (Rupr.) Herder), a large deciduous shrub from China, has invaded many forests in eastern/central United States. The species was removed by cutting and herbicide application from a recently hydrologically restored section of a bottomland hardwood forest in central Ohio, and the response of understory plants, especially herbaceous species, was measured. Plots were established in uncleared and cleared sections, and percent cover of each herbaceous understory species was estimated monthly. One season after several years of Lonicera removal efforts, no significant association was discovered between percentage of Lonicera cover and total understory species abundance. There was, however, a direct correlation between elevation and honeysuckle abundance; L. maackii abundance was negatively associated with low elevations, likely due to hydrologic factors. Plant species diversity (H) and richness (s) increased with elevation but were not significantly different on plots with honeysuckle removal (H = 0.86 0.08 vs. 0.78 0.09 and s = 4.4 0.19 vs. 4.2 0.2 species/m2, respectively) despite the fact that understory light levels measured by densiometer were significantly higher (,= 0.003) in cleared versus uncleared sections. Native and invasive species were found in similar proportions in the two sections, and significant sprouting and regrowth of L. maackii were observed throughout the cleared section. Although the removal of L. maackii altered the characteristics of the plant species assemblage, the value of this management remains questionable in the years immediately following treatment. [source]

Combined Effects of Host Plant Quality and Predation on a Tropical Lepidopteran: A Comparison between Treefall Gaps and the Understory in Panama

BIOTROPICA, Issue 6 2008
Lora A. Richards
ABSTRACT In tropical forests, light-gaps created from treefalls are a frequent source of habitat heterogeneity. The increase in productivity, through gap formation, can alter food quality, predation and their impact on insect herbivores. We hypothesized that in gaps, herbivores would be less resource-limited and more predator limited, whereas in the understory, we predicted the reverse. In this study, we investigate the combined effects of food quality and predation on the lepidopteran larva Zunacetha annulata feeding on its host plant Hybanthus prunifolius in two habitats; sunny treefall gaps and the shaded understory in Panama. In bioassays, Z. annulata feeding on sun leaves ate 22 percent less leaf area, grew 25 percent faster, and had higher pupal weights than larvae feeding on shade leaves. However, shade leaves had higher nitrogen content and specific leaf area. In gaps, predation was 26.4 percent compared to 13.8 percent in the understory. Larvae on understory plants traveled greater distances and spent more time searching and traveling than larvae on gap plants. These differences in behavior are consistent with lower predation risk and lower quality food in the understory. Using data from bioassays and field experiments we calculated 0.22 percent and 1.02 percent survival to adulthood for larvae in gaps and the understory, respectively. In conclusion, although these habitats were in close proximity, we found that larvae in the understory are more resource-limited and larvae in gaps are more predator limited. [source]

Plant Community Structure in Tropical Rain Forest Fragments of the Western Ghats, India,

BIOTROPICA, Issue 2 2006
S. Muthuramkumar
ABSTRACT Changes in tree, liana, and understory plant diversity and community composition in five tropical rain forest fragments varying in area (18,2600 ha) and disturbance levels were studied on the Valparai plateau, Western Ghats. Systematic sampling using small quadrats (totaling 4 ha for trees and lianas, 0.16 ha for understory plants) enumerated 312 species in 103 families: 1968 trees (144 species), 2250 lianas (60 species), and 6123 understory plants (108 species). Tree species density, stem density, and basal area were higher in the three larger (> 100 ha) rain forest fragments but were negatively correlated with disturbance scores rather than area per se. Liana species density, stem density, and basal area were higher in moderately disturbed and lower in heavily disturbed fragments than in the three larger fragments. Understory species density was highest in the highly disturbed 18-ha fragment, due to weedy invasive species occurring with rain forest plants. Nonmetric multidimensional scaling and Mantel tests revealed significant and similar patterns of floristic variation suggesting similar effects of disturbance on community compositional change for the three life-forms. The five fragments encompassed substantial plant diversity in the regional landscape, harbored at least 70 endemic species (3.21% of the endemic flora of the Western Ghats,Sri Lanka biodiversity hotspot), and supported many endemic and threatened animals. The study indicates the significant conservation value of rain forest fragments in the Western Ghats, signals the need to protect them from further disturbances, and provides useful benchmarks for restoration and monitoring efforts. [source]