Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Competition for nutrients between Calluna vulgaris (L.) Hull and Molinia caerulea (L.) Moench


A combination of a removal and fertilization experiment in the field and a replacement experiment in containers in a cold frame was carried out to investigate the role of nutrient supply in the interactions between Calluna vulgaris and Molinia caerulea. It is concluded that the growth of Calluna as well as that of Molinia increased with increasing nutrient availability. However, the increase in biomass of Molinia was much larger than that of Calluna. It is also concluded that increased nutrient availability favours the competitive vigour of Molinia in interaction with Calluna.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Berendse F (1981) Competition and equilibrium in grassland communities. PhD Thesis. University of Utrecht p 151

  2. Berendse F, Aerts R (1984) Competition between Erica tetralix L. and Molinia caerulea (L.) Moench as affected by the availability of nutrients. Acta Oecol Oecol Plant 5:3–14

  3. Bergh JP van den (1979) Changes in the composition of mixed population of grassland species. In: Werger MJA (ed), The study of vegetation. Junk, The Hague pp 59–80

  4. Braakhekke WG (1980) On coexistence: a causal approach to diversity and stability of grassland vegetation. Pudoc. Wageningen. p 164

  5. Brunsting AMH, Heil GW (1985) The role of nutrients in the interactions between a herbivorous beetle and some competing plant species in heathlands. Oikos 44(1):23–26

  6. Diemont WH, Heil GW (1984) Some long term observations on cyclical and seral processes in Dutch heathlands. Biological consevation 30:113–120

  7. Dixon WJ, Brown MB, Engelman L, Frane JW, Hill MA, Jennrich RI, Toporek JD (1981) BMDP Statistical Software 1981, University of California, Press. Berkely, Los Angeles, London

  8. Gimingham CH (1972) Ecology of heathlands. Chapman & Hall London

  9. Gimingham CH, Smidt JT de (1983) Heaths as natural and seminatural vegetation. In: Holzner H, Werger MJA, Ikusima I (eds) Man's impact upon vegetation. Junk, The Hague pp 185–199

  10. Gore AJP (1963) Factors limiting plant growth on high-level blanket peat. III An analysis of growth of Molinia caerulea (L.) Moench. in the second year. J Ecol 51:481–491

  11. Grace J, Woolhouse WH (1970) A physiological and mathematical study of the growth and productivity of a Calluna-Sphagnum community. I Net photosynthesis of Calluna vulgaris (L.) Hull. J Appl Ecol 7:363–381

  12. Grime JP (1979) Plant strategies and vegetation processess. Wiley, New York

  13. Grime JP, Hunt R (1975) Relative growth-rate: its range and adaptive significance in a local flora. J Ecol 63:393–422

  14. Heil GW, Diemont WH (1983) Raised nutrient levels change heathland into grassland. Vegetatio 53:113–120

  15. Helsper HPG, Glenn-Lewin D, Werger MJA (1983) Early regeneration of Calluna heathland under various fertilization treatments. Oecologia (Berlin) 58:208–214

  16. Jefferies TA (1915) Ecology of the purple heath grass (Molinia caerulea). J Ecol 3:93–109

  17. Mörzer-Bruyns MF (1953) Enige richtlijnen voor het beheer van heideterreinen. In: Heeft onze heide nog toekomst? Publikatie van de Studiekring van de Veluwe. pp 47–55

  18. Pinder JE (1975) Effects of species removal on an old-field plant community. Ecology 56:747–751

  19. Sagar GR, Harper JL (1961) Controled interference with natural populations of Plantago lanceolata, P. major and P. media. Weed Research 1:163–176

  20. Smidt JT de (1977) Interaction of Calluna vulgaris and the heather beetle (Lochmaea suturalis). In Tuxen R (ed), Vegetation and Fauna. J. Cramer, Vaduz pp 179–186

  21. Werger MJA, Prentice IC, Helsper HPH (1985) The effect of sodcutting to different depths on Calluna heathland regeneration. J Environ Manag 20:181–188

  22. Westhof V (1960) Het beheer van heidereservaten. Natuur en landschap 14:97–118

  23. Willems JH (1980) Observations on North West European limestone grassland communities: an experimental approach to the study of species diversity and above ground biomass in chalk grassland. Proceedings of the KNAW 83:279–306

  24. Wit CT de, Bergh JP van den (1965) Competition between herbage plants. Netherlands J Agric Sc 13:212–221

Download references

Author information

Correspondence to G. W. Heil.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Heil, G.W., Bruggink, M. Competition for nutrients between Calluna vulgaris (L.) Hull and Molinia caerulea (L.) Moench. Oecologia 73, 105–107 (1987).

Download citation

Key words

  • Competition
  • Nutrients
  • Heathland
  • Calluna vulgaris
  • Molinia caerulea