Chin J Plan Ecolo ›› 2003, Vol. 27 ›› Issue (1): 99-102.doi: 10.17521/cjpe.2003.0015

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Changes in Plant Competition with the Development of Gaps

XIANG Yan-Ci, PENG Shao-Lin, CAI Xi-An, REN Hai, ZHOU Hou-Cheng   

  • Online:2003-01-10 Published:2003-01-10
  • Contact: XIANG Yan-Ci

Abstract:

Juvenile plants in a community usually compete with the established vegetation within that community. In general, plants are likely to compete for three kinds of ssential resources: photosynthetically active radiation, water and essential nutrients. After the formation of treefall gaps, the competition between plants in gaps and in adjacent understory may change accordingly. Two fundamental questions are how the intensity of competition on juvenile plants changes with the development of gaps and whether the intensity of competition on different species is different or not. We used a field experiment to measure the intensity of competition on juvenile trees in a mixed forest community with infertile soil on an island in Southeastern China. We separated competition into its above- and belowground components in the field. We reduced aboveground competition by felling large trees to create three treefall gaps, and removed belowground competition by trenching. Thus we created three neighborhood treatments: with roots of neighbors only, with shoots of neighbors only and with no neighbors. Seedlings of three tree species were transplanted into the three gaps with and without trenches cut around the gaps. These species included the two exotic species Eucalyptus urophylla S.T.Blake and Acacia auriculaeformis A.Cunn., and one native species, Schima superba Gardn. et Champ. We measured the biomass, the relative growth rate, and competition intensity of seedlings of the three species over two years. Results based on the average of the three species showed that the intensity of above- and belowground competition on the seedlings of the three species increased gradually with the development of gaps. The intensity of aboveground competition was greater ofr the tow exotic species than that for the native. However, for the native species, the intensity of belowground competition was greater than that for the tow exotics. The relative growth rates of seedlings of the three species with roots of neighbors only and with shoots of neighbors only were all less than with no neighbors. The results showed that the competition of shoots and roots of neighbors in gaps imposed negative impacts on the growth of the three species. The impacts differed between exotic and native species.

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