, Volume 634, Issue 1, pp 115-124
Date: 05 Aug 2009

Competition in microcosm between a clonal plant species (Bolboschoenus maritimus) and a rare quillwort (Isoetes setacea) from Mediterranean temporary pools of southern France

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Bolboschoenus maritimus, a clonal species, is locally invasive in Mediterranean temporary pools where it threatens endangered rare plant species such as Isoetes setacea. The combination of management modifications (grazing) and of the progressive accumulation of fine sediments in the pools contributed to the establishment of competitive perennial plants such as B. maritimus. The competitive advantage of B. maritimus on I. setacea has been studied in controlled conditions. The goal of this experiment was to assess the role of environmental conditions in the output of the competition between Bolboschoenus and Isoetes, notably hydrology and soil richness. For this purpose, Isoetes was cultivated alone (three individuals/pot) and with Bolboschoenus (three individuals of both species). The experiment was run with five replicates on six types of sediment (gradient of richness in sand/silt/clay) combined with three hydrological treatments (flooded, wet. and dry). The competitive advantage of Bolboschoenus was measured as the ratio of the production of Isoetes in mixture versus monoculture. The results showed that Isoetes was always outcompeted by Bolboschoenus. However, the competitive advantage of Bolboschoenus on Isoetes, was more related to hydrology than to soil richness. The competitive advantage of Bolboschoenus was very high in wet and flooded conditions and very low in dry conditions. This situation may lead to the extinction, medium-term, of the populations of I. setacea. The introduction of ovine grazing or of cut back practices in temporary pools could reduce the B. maritimus biomass and help toward the conservation of I. setacea populations.

Guest editors: B. Oertli, R. Cereghino, A. Hull & R. Miracle
Pond Conservation: From Science to Practice. 3rd Conference of the European Pond Conservation Network, Valencia, Spain, 14–16 May 2008