, Volume 26, Issue 1, pp 9–31 | Cite as

Productivity relations in a Carex-dominated ecosystem

  • A. N. D. Auclair
  • A. Bouchard
  • J. Pajaczkowski


Seasonal and total primary productivity was measured for a Carex meadow in southern Quebec, Canada. Forty-five one-meter2 plots were sampled for dry weight biomass, species composition, structure (species density, diversity, height) and soil parameters including macronutrient concentrations (Ca, K, Mg, Na, N, P), pH, organic matter, and water depth. Shoot net productivity and litter decomposition rates were computed for 20-day intervals May–September, inclusive. Relationships between all parameters were examined by principal components analysis.

Dominant species included Carex lacustris, C. aquatilis, Calamagrostis canadensis, and Typha angustifolia. For a 130-day growth period, mean shoot net productivity was 6.3 g·m-2· da-1 and terminal standing crop 807 g·m-2. Terminal standing crop was very close to above ground biomass predicted by the Gorham equation based on thermal relations for Carex ecosystems and to total accumulated litter mass (779 g·m-2). Seasonal production showed a strong bimodal pattern with peak productivities in mid-June (15.3 g·m-2·da-1) and mid-July (4.3 g·m-2·da-1). Decomposition of the previous year's litter was 81% complete by late September.

Soil fertility, fire incidence, and topographic position were the three most important gradients resolved by principal components analysis. The first component distinguished sediment-rich Typha angustifolia communities near open water from oligotrophic stands of Carex spp. on central areas of the meadow. Production levels correlated closely with extractable soil calcium (r=0.40**) and phosphorus levels (r=0.39**). Species diversity and stem density related inversely to productivity on this component. Fire incidence (component II) had a marked effect on species diversity due to surface scarification and removal of litter mass. Component III was a topographic gradient separating composition, and community structure.

Magnesium and sodium levels decreased from upland to open water. Soil phosphorus increased markedly at water's edge related to mineral input by sedimentation. Pattern of N, P, K, and Ca coincided closely with total shoot production and litter mass levels suggesting closed biotic cycles of these elements.

A model accounting for species diversity levels in Carex meadow was formulated based on the assumption that high productivity results in competitive species elimination.


Litter Mass Litter Decomposition Rate Fire Incidence Total Primary Productivity Macronutrient Concentration 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. N. D. Auclair
    • 1
  • A. Bouchard
    • 1
  • J. Pajaczkowski
    • 1
  1. 1.Biology DepartmentMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada

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