Advertisement

Plant Ecology

, Volume 201, Issue 2, pp 687–697 | Cite as

Estimating plant competition coefficients and predicting community dynamics from non-destructive pin-point data: a case study with Calluna vulgaris and Deschampsia flexuosa

  • Christian DamgaardEmail author
  • Torben Riis-Nielsen
  • Inger Kappel Schmidt
Article

Abstract

A method is proposed for estimating plant competition coefficients and predicting the dynamics of herb and grassland plant communities from non-destructive pin-point measurements. The method is applied to inter-specific competition in a natural heathland community with relatively few interacting species. The study shows that the dynamics of the heathland plant community may be thought of as essentially a two-species system of Calluna vulgaris and Deschampsia flexuosa. There were significant competitive interactions between C. vulgaris and D. flexuosa. D. flexuosa affected both the cover and compactness of C. vulgaris individuals as a function of the compactness the previous year, whereas C. vulgaris significantly affected only the compactness of D. flexuosa. There was a significant negative effect of drought on the compactness of both C. vulgaris and D. flexuosa individuals, whereas night warming had no significant effects on either species. The predicted long-term outcome of the competitive interaction between C. vulgaris and D. flexuosa was that of unstable equilibrium, where the more dominant of the two will outcompete the other. However, when both species are found at relatively high plant covers the two species are predicted to co-exist for a long time period relatively to the time scale of the ageing process of C. vulgaris. Direct analyses of the inter-specific competitive interactions in natural plant communities with non-destructive measurements can provide important new insight into the processes that determine the composition of plant communities.

Keywords

Heathland Plant competition model Point-intercept Succession 

Notes

Acknowledgement

The project was funded by EU under the projects CLIMOOR (Contract ENV4-CT97-0694) and VULCAN (Contract EVK2-CT-2000-00094) and the participating research institutes and to Risø National Laboratory, Denmark. Further information about the project can be found on www.vulcanproject.com. Thanks to Rasmus Ejrnæs, Beate Strandberg, Morten Strandberg, Jacob Weiner, and an anonymous reviewer for commenting on a previous version of the manuscript.

References

  1. Bakker JP, Olff H, Willems JH, Zobel M (1996) Why do we need permanent plots in the study of long-term vegetation dynamics? J Veg Sci 7:147–156. doi: 10.2307/3236314 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Barclay-Estrup P (1970) The description and interpretation of cyclical processes in a heath community. II. Changes in biomass and shoot production during the Calluna cycle. J Ecol 58:243–249. doi: 10.2307/2258179 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Barclay-Estrup P, Gimingham CH (1969) The description and interpretation of cyclical processes in a heath community. I. Vegetational change in relation to the Calluna cycle. J Ecol 57:737–758. doi: 10.2307/2258496 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Beier C, Emmett B, Gundersen P, Tietema A, Penuelas J, Estiarte M, Gordon C, Gorissen A, Llorens L, Roda F, Williams D (2004a) Novel approaches to study climate change effects on terrestrial ecosystems at the field scale: drought and passive night time warming. Ecosystems (N Y, Print) 7:583–597. doi: 10.1007/s10021-004-0178-8 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Beier C, Schmidt IK, Kristensen HL (2004b) Effects of climate and ecosystem disturbances on biogeochemical cycling in a semi-natural terrestrial ecosystem. Water, soil, air pollution. Focus 4:191–206Google Scholar
  6. Bleasdale JKA, Nelder JA (1960) Plant populations and crop yield. Nature 188:342. doi: 10.1038/188342a0 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bruggink M (1993) Seed bank, germination, and establishment of ericaceous and gramineous species in heathlands. In: Aerts R, Heil GW (eds) Heatlands: patterns and processes in a changing environment. Kluwer Academic, Dordrecht, Holland, pp 153–180Google Scholar
  8. Conner EF, Simberloff D (1979) The assembly of species communities: chance or competition. Ecology 60:1132–1140. doi: 10.2307/1936961 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Damgaard C (1998) Plant competition experiments: testing hypotheses and estimating the probability of coexistence. Ecology 79:1760–1767Google Scholar
  10. Damgaard C (2004) Evolutionary ecology of plant–plant interactions: an empirical modelling approach. Aarhus University Press, AarhusGoogle Scholar
  11. Damgaard C (2008) Modelling pin-point plant cover data along an environmental gradient. Ecol Model 214:404–410CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Diemont WH, Linthorst Homan HDM (1989) Re-establishment of dominance by dwarf shrubs on grass heath. Vegetatio 85:13–19. doi: 10.1007/BF00042251 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Firbank LG, Watkinson AR (1985) On the analysis of competition within two-species mixtures of plants. J Appl Ecol 22:503–517. doi: 10.2307/2403181 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Freckleton RP, Watkinson AR (2001) Nonmanipulative determination of plant community dynamics. Trends Ecol Evol 16:301–307. doi: 10.1016/S0169-5347(01)02146-2 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gates DJ, Westcott M (1978) Zone of influence models for competition in plantations. Adv Appl Probab 10:299–537. doi: 10.2307/1426901 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Gotelli N, McCabe DJ (2002) Species co-occurrence: a meta-analysis of J.M. Diamonds’s assembly rules model. Ecology 83:2091–2096CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hara T, Wyszomirski T (1994) Competitive asymmetry reduces spatial effects on size-structure dynamics in plant populations. Ann Bot (Lond) 73:173–190Google Scholar
  18. Heil GW, Bobbink R (1993) “Calluna”, a simulation model for evaluation of impacts of atmospheric nitrogen deposition on dry heathlands. Ecol Modell 68:161–182. doi: 10.1016/0304-3800(93)90015-K CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hubbell SP (2001) The unified neutral theory of biodiversity and biogeography. Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar
  20. Jonasson S (1983) The point intercept method for non-destructive estimation of biomass. Phytocoenologia 11:385–388Google Scholar
  21. Jonasson S (1988) Evaluation of the point intercept method for the estimation of plant biomass. Oikos 52:101–106. doi: 10.2307/3565988 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kent A, Coker P (1992) Vegetation description and analysis: a practical approach. John Wiley & Sons, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  23. Kulenovic MRS, Merino O (2002) Discrete dynamical systems and difference equations with Mathematica. Chapman & Hall, Boca RatonGoogle Scholar
  24. Law R, Watkinson AR (1987) Response-surface analysis of two species competition: an experiment on Phleum arenarium and Vulpia fasciculata. J Ecol 75:871–886. doi: 10.2307/2260211 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Law R, Herben T, Dieckmann U (1997) Non-manipulative estimates of competition coefficients in a montane grassland community. J Ecol 85:505–517. doi: 10.2307/2960573 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Levy EB and Madden EA (1933) The point method of Pasture analysis. N Z J Agric 46:267–279Google Scholar
  27. Pacala SW, Silander JA (1990) Field tests of neighborhood population dynamic models of two annual species. Ecol Monogr 60:113–134. doi: 10.2307/1943028 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Rees M, Grubb PJ, Kelly D (1996) Quantifying the impact of competition and spatial heterogeneity on the structure and dynamics of a four-species guild of winter annuals. Am Nat 147:1–32. doi: 10.1086/285837 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Riis-Nielsen T (1997) Effects of nitrogen on the stability and dynamics of Danish heathland vegetation. Ph.D thesis, Department of Plant Ecology, University of CopenhagenGoogle Scholar
  30. Roxburgh SH, Wilson JB (2000a) Stability and coexistence in a lawn community: experimental assessment of the stability of the actual community. Oikos 88:309–423. doi: 10.1034/j.1600-0706.2000.880209.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Roxburgh SH, Wilson JB (2000b) Stability and coexistence in a lawn community: mathematical prediction of stability using a community matrix with parameters derived from competition experiments. Oikos 88:395–408. doi: 10.1034/j.1600-0706.2000.880218.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Schmidt IK, Williams D, Tietema A, Gundersen P, Beier C, Emmett BA (2004) Soil solution chemistry and element fluxes in three European heathlands and their responses to warming and drought. Ecosystems (N Y Print) 7:638–649. doi: 10.1007/s10021-004-0217-5 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Shmida A, Ellner S (1984) Coexistence of plant species with similar niches. Vegetatio 58:29–55Google Scholar
  34. Silvertown J, Dodd ME, Gowing DJG, Mountford JO (1999) Hydrologically defined niches reveal a basis for species richness in plant communities. Nature 400:61–63. doi: 10.1038/21877 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Terry AC, Ashmore MR, Power SA, Allchin EA, Heil GW (2004) Modelling the impacts of atmospheric nitrogen deposition on Calluna-dominated ecosystems in the UK. J Appl Ecol 41:897–909. doi: 10.1111/j.0021-8901.2004.00955.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Turnbull LA, Coomes D, Hector A, Rees M (2004) Seed mass and the competition/colonization trade-off: competitive interactions and spatial patterns in a guild of annual plants. J Ecol 92:97–109. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2745.2004.00856.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. van Vuuren MMI, van der Eerden LJ (1992) Effects of three rates of atmospheric nitrogen deposition enriched with N-15 on litter decomposition in a heathland. Soil Biol Biochem 24:527–532. doi: 10.1016/0038-0717(92)90076-A CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. van Vuuren M, Aerts R, Berendse F, Wisser W (1992) Nitrogen mineralization in heathland ecosystems dominated by different plant species. Biogeochemistry 16:151–166. doi: 10.1007/BF00002816 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Watt AS (1947) Pattern and process in the plant community. J Ecol 35:1–22. doi: 10.2307/2256497 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Weiner J, Damgaard C (2006) Size-asymmetric competition and size-asymmetric growth in a spatially explicit zone-of-influence model of plant competition. Ecol Res 21:707–712. doi: 10.1007/s11284-006-0178-6 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Weiher E, Clarke GDP, Keddy PA (1998) Community assembly rules, morphological dispersion, and the coexistence of plant species. Oikos 81:309–322. doi: 10.2307/3547051 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Weiner J, Stoll P, Muller-Landau H, Jasentuliyana A (2001) The effects of density, spatial pattern and competitive symmetry on size variation in simulated plant populations. Am Nat 158:438–450. doi: 10.1086/321988 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Wilson JB, Crawley MJ, Dodd ME, Silvertown J (1996) Evidence for constraint on species coexistence in vegetation of the Park Grass experiment. Vegetatio 124:183–190Google Scholar
  44. Wolfram S (2003) Mathematica. Wolfram Research, Inc, Champaign, USAGoogle Scholar
  45. Wyszomirski T (1983) A simulation model of the growth of competing individuals of a plant population. Ekol Polska 31:73–92Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christian Damgaard
    • 1
    Email author
  • Torben Riis-Nielsen
    • 2
  • Inger Kappel Schmidt
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Terrestrial EcologyNERI, University of AarhusSilkeborgDenmark
  2. 2.Applied Ecology, Forest & LandscapeUniversity of CopenhagenHorsholmDenmark

Personalised recommendations