The advantages of clonal integration under different ecological conditions: A community-wide test

Steven C. Pennings, Ragan M. Callaway

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The 'connectedness' of clonal plants has been shown to promote survival and growth in a variety of single-species, single-factor studies, but experiments comparing the relative advantages of clonality across multiple habitats and species are rare, raising the concern that generalizations about the benefits of clonality might be biased by the particular species or habitat studied. We studied the importance of clonal integration in southeastern USA salt marsh plants, using all six of the common clonal species in the community, by following the success of intact and severed clonal fragments invading three habitat treatments. Clonal integration was most important for growth of clonal fragments invading hypersaline salt pans, likely because parent clones supplied salt-stressed fragments with water; of moderate importance for fragments invading the neighbors-clipped treatment, likely because parent clones supplied fragments with resources enabling rapid exploitation of unused patches; and least important when neighbors were present, consistent with suggestions that size-based asymmetrical competition is relatively unimportant in clonal plants. Our results indicate that the importance of clonal integration can differ between habitats and species within a community. We encourage explicit consideration of these potential sources of variability to best understand the importance of clonal integration in the field.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)709-716
Number of pages8
JournalEcology
Volume81
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2000

Keywords

  • Abiotic stress
  • Clonal integration
  • Clonal plants
  • Disturbance
  • Halophytes
  • Plant communities
  • Salt marsh ecology

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