Ecological divergence among five co-occurring species of old-field goldenrods Article Received: 19 December 2002 Accepted: 29 April 2004 DOI:
Cite this article as: Abrahamson, W.G., Dobley, K.B., Houseknecht, H.R. et al. Plant Ecol (2005) 177: 43. doi:10.1007/s11258-005-2069-2 Abstract
Approximately 130 species of goldenrods are native to North America and many occur sympatrically. Such cooccurrence among closely related species raises the question of whether differences among the species in smallscale distribution and growth forms facilitate their co-occurrence. We investigated five goldenrods that frequently co-occur within their native ranges in Pennsylvania USA old fields. We measured goldenrod abundances, soil textures, nutrients, pH, and moisture within 30 old fields, and determined biomass allocation and flower and seed traits for each goldenrod species at a common site. Ordination revealed that Solidago altissima and S. gigantea were associated with fields having circum-neutral soils, whereas Euthamia graminifolia and S. rugosa achieved their highest abundances on acidic soils. Soil clay content and moisture may be associated with a further separation of species as the abundance of S. altissima tended to be higher on well-drained soils while S. gigantea had a tendency to attain its highest abundances on moist soils that had relatively stable moisture levels over time. Euthamia was more likely to be abundant on clay-rich soils while S. rugosa was often associated with soils containing little clay. Solidago juncea tended to associate with droughty soils that underwent marked soil-moisture changes over time. The latter goldenrod had the greatest absolute and relative root mass, the least absolute and relative leaf mass, highest seed-reproductive allocation, and heaviest achenes. In contrast, S. gigantea and Euthamia, which were often associated with more mesic and stable soil moisture conditions, allocated the least to roots and relatively high amounts of mass to leaves. Solidago gigantea, S. altissima, and Euthamia are invasive species across Europe. The species with the highest colonization rate across Europe, S. gigantea, allocated the most to reproduction in our study, while S. altissima, with the second highest colonization rate, was highly clonal producing the most rhizome mass. Life-history trait variation among goldenrods appears to be linked to differences in small-scale distributions and rates of colonization.
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