Evolutionary Ecology

, Volume 18, Issue 5–6, pp 493–520 | Cite as

Physiological integration affects growth form and competitive ability in clonal plants

  • Tomáš HerbenEmail author
Research Article


Clonal plants translocate resources through spacers between ramets. Translocation can be advantageous if a plant occurs in heterogeneous environments (‘division of labour’); however, because plants interact locally, any spatial arrangement of ramets generates some heterogeneity in light and nutrients even if there is no external heterogeneity. Thus the capacity of a clonal plant to exploit heterogeneous environment must operate in an environment where heterogeneity is partly shaped by the plant growth itself. Since most experiments use only simple systems of two connected ramets, plant-level effects of translocation are unknown. A spatially explicit simulation model of clonal plant growth, competition and translocation is used to identify whether different patterns of translocation have the potential to affect the growth form of the plant and its competitive ability. The results show that different arrangements of translocation sinks over the spacer system can completely alter clonal morphology. Both runners and clumpers can be generated using the same architectural rules by changing translocation only. The effect of translocation strongly interacts with the architectural rules of the plant growth: plants with ramets staying alive when a spacer is formed are much less sensitive to change in translocation than plants with ramets only at the tip. If translocation cost is low, translocating plants are in most cases better competitors than plants that do not translocate; the difference becomes stronger in more productive environments. Key traits that confer competitive ability are total number of ramet, and their fine-scale aggregation.


competitive ability individual-based simulation model plant architecture resource acquisition resource translocation spatial autocorrelation 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Botany, Department of Botany, Faculty of ScienceAcademy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Charles UniversityPruhonice, PrahaCzech Republic, Czech Republic

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