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Nitrogen translocation in a clonal dune perennial, Hydrocotyle bonariensis

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Hydrocotyle bonariensis, a common rhizomatous perennial of coastal North Carolina, forms extensive clones in dune systems characterized by a patchy nitrogen distribution. An experiment was conducted in which Hydrocotyle clones were grown across artificially created soil nitrogen gradients to determine: (1) the effect of soil nitrogen availability and nitrogen translocation on clonal structure and (2) the costs versus benefits of nitrogen translocation as measured by sexual and clonal reproduction. Acropetal translocation of nitrogen resulted in highly significant benefits to clones growing from areas of high N to areas of low N. Limited basipetal translocation was also demonstrated. Hydrocotyle ramets responded to increased nitrogen availability, from either intraclonal translocation or immediate uptake from the soil, by producing branches. Nitrogen level, however, had no effect on internode distances. Clonal integration of nitrogen, in tandem with a plastic morphology, allow Hydrocotyle clones to expand across a nitrogen-limited dune environment and to locally exploit nitrogen patches when they are encountered.

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Evans, J.P. Nitrogen translocation in a clonal dune perennial, Hydrocotyle bonariensis . Oecologia 77, 64–68 (1988).

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