Oecologia

, Volume 136, Issue 2, pp 296–301

Shrub spatial aggregation and consequences for reproductive success

Community Ecology

DOI: 10.1007/s00442-003-1264-x

Cite this article as:
Tirado, R. & Pugnaire, F.I. Oecologia (2003) 136: 296. doi:10.1007/s00442-003-1264-x

Abstract

To link spatial patterns and ecological processes, we analysed the distribution of two shrub species (one large and dominant, the other smaller) and estimated the reproductive consequences of their distribution for the smaller species. We tested the significance of the spatial distribution pattern of the two shrubs by second-order bivariate point pattern analysis (Ripley's K function). Performance of Asparagus albus, the smaller shrub, was measured as (1) survival of transplanted seedlings in two contrasting habitats: patches of the dominant shrub (Ziziphus lotus), and open interspaces; and (2) reproductive output of plants naturally occurring in both habitats. The two species were significantly aggregated. Transplanted Asparagus albus seedlings had higher survival rates in patches than in the open. Plants produced more flowers, fruits, and showed a higher mass of seeds when living in aggregates than when isolated. The mechanisms responsible for this facilitative effect seem to be related to soil enrichment in patches. These results suggest that the spatial aggregation of species can be indicative of a positive interaction among them, directly affecting fitness of at least one of the species. Facilitation, by inducing variations in the reproductive performance may play a major role in the demography and dynamics of plant populations.

Keywords

FacilitationSpecies interactionsPlantsReproductionSpatial distribution pattern

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Estación Experimental de Zonas ÁridasConsejo Superior de Investigaciones CientíficasAlmeríaSpain