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Research article2003Peer reviewed

Interspecific interactions and biomass allocation among grassland plant species

Wardle DA, Peltzer DA


Although a handful of studies have shown how interspecific interactions may influence plant shoot to root ratios, the issue of how these interactions influence biomass partitioning among coexisting plant species remains largely unexplored. In this study, we determined whether a given plant species could induce other plain species to allocate relative biomass to each of four zones (aboveground, and three soil depth layers) in a different manner to what they Would otherwise, and whether this may influence the nature of competitive or facilitative interactions amongst coexisting plant species. We used a glasshouse study in which Mixtures and monocultures of ten grassland plant species were grown in cylindrical pots to determine the effects of plant species mixtures versus monocultures oil the production of shoots and of roots of other species for each of three soil depths. Across all experiments, stimulation of production in Mixtures was far less common than suppression of production. Different plant species shifted their allocation to shoots or roots at different depths, Suggesting that interspecific interactions can either: (I) increase the ratio of deep to shallow roots, perhaps because competition reduces root growth in the uppermost part of the soil profile; or (2) decrease this ratio by reducing plant vigour to such an extent that the plant cannot produce roots that can reach deep enough to exploit resources at lower depths. Further, these results Suggest that there are instances in which competition may have the potential to enforce resource partitioning between coexisting plant species by inducing different species to root at different depths to each other

Published in

2003, Volume: 100, number: 3, pages: 497-506

      SLU Authors

    • Wardle, David

      • Department of Forest Vegetation Ecology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Forest Science

    Publication identifier


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