, Volume 71, Issue 4, pp 601-607

The measurement of small-scale environmental heterogeneity using clonal transplants of Anthoxanthum odoratum and Danthonia spicata

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To assess the scale of micro-environmental heterogeneity perceived by two co-occurring grass species, Anthoxanthum odoratum and Danthonia spicata, cloned tillers of each species were planted into the natural habitat at a range of spacings (from 2 cm to more than 2 m apart) and measured for survival and fecundity over three years. A. odoratum responded to heterogeneity at a scale of 4–8 cm and at a scale of 2–8 m but not to intermediate scales. D. spicata did not respond significantly to heterogeneity. However one genotype infected with the systemic fungus Atkinsonella hypoxylon showed a large response to heterogeneity at both small and large spatial scales. The results showed that the scale and level of environmental heterogeneity as measured by its fitness impact depends on the species and genotype involved. The results indicate that small scale environmental heterogeneity could play a role in the maintenance of sexual reproduction in A. odoratum.