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Evidences of Allee Effect in Winter Crops: A Model Based Study

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Plant species may be subject to Allee effect if individuals experience a reduction in fitness when population biomass is small. The instances of Allee effect are fewer in number for plants than the animals and the consequences are not substantially explored for the field crops. Here Allee effects on three winter crops, viz. Barley (Hordeum vulgare Sensulato), Wheat (Triticum aestivum L. emend. Fiori and Paol.) and Indian mustard [Brassica juncea (L.) Czernj. And Cosson] have been studied in sub-tropical sub-humid agro-ecosystem through field experiment and mathematical model formulation. The field experiment was conducted during the winter seasons of 2014–2015 and 2015–2016 at the Agricultural Experiment Farm of the Indian Statistical Institute, Giridih, Jharkhand under rainfed conditions. The underlying experimental design is a split-plot design with three replications for each winter crop. Two varieties of each winter crop were randomly allocated in the main plots. In sub-plots, four weed treatments are applied, viz. Weed-free control, other weeds except M. denticulata, M. denticulata alone, unweeded. We illustrate the mathematical models for the crop—weed interactive dynamics through the total biomass yield (in kg/ha) of the three winter crops. The existence of weak Allee effect in Barley and Wheat is established particularly in the presence of Medicago, but Indian mustard exhibits no such evidence. The importance of this dynamic process in plant ecology has been under appreciated and recent evidence suggests that it might have an impact on the population dynamics of many plants. A practical agro-economic benefit of M. denticulata has also been revealed.

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We are thankful to Mr. Ayan Paul, Agricultural and Ecological Research Unit, Indian Statistical Institute for the final editing of the paper.

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Correspondence to Sabyasachi Bhattacharya or Pabitra Banik.

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Mukhopadhyay, S., Sharma, R.C., Bhattacharya, S. et al. Evidences of Allee Effect in Winter Crops: A Model Based Study. Int. J. Plant Prod. 14, 287–297 (2020).

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