Plant Ecology

, Volume 157, Issue 2, pp 119–127 | Cite as

Competitive abilities of introduced and native grasses

  • Jonathan Bakker
  • Scott Wilson


Differencesin competitive ability may explain the maintenance of existing plantpopulationsand the invasion of new areas by plant species. We used field experiments toexamine the competitive responses of Agropyron cristatum(L.) Gaertn., an introduced C3 grass, and Boutelouagracilis (HBK.) Lag., a native C4 grass, and thecompetitive effects of Agropyron-dominated vegetation andsuccessional prairie. We also tested whether the outcome of competitiveinteractions varied with water availability. In each vegetation type,transplants of each species were grown under two levels of competition(presenceor absence of neighboring vegetation) and three levels of water availability(high, medium, or low). Transplant survival, growth, and biomass allocationpatterns were measured. Water availability had no effect on the measuredvariables, suggesting that both species were limited by another resource.Growthrates were affected more by competition, while survival and root: shoot ratiowere affected more by transplant species identity. In the successional prairie,neighboring vegetation suppressed the growth of Agropyrontransplants less than that of Bouteloua transplants,suggesting that Agropyron has a stronger ability to resistcompetitive suppression in that vegetation type. The spread ofAgropyron into surrounding vegetation may relate to itsability to resist competitive suppression. In theAgropyron-dominated vegetation, neighboring vegetationsuppressed the growth of both species by the same extent. However, competitionaccounted for more variation in transplant growth inAgropyron-dominated vegetation than in successionalprairie, suggesting that Agropyron has strong competitiveeffects which hinder plant growth and prevent other species from establishinginAgropyron fields.

Agropyron cristatum Bouteloua gracilis Competition Mixed-grass prairie Water 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jonathan Bakker
    • 1
  • Scott Wilson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of ReginaReginaCanada

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