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Light partitioning in experimental grass communities


Vojtech, E; Loreau, M; Yachi, S; Spehn, E M; Hector, A (2008). Light partitioning in experimental grass communities. Oikos, 117(9):1351-1361.

Abstract

Through complementary use of canopy space in mixtures, aboveground niche separation has the potential to promote
species coexistence and increase productivity of mixtures as compared to monocultures. We set up an experiment with five perennial grass species which differed in height and their ability to compete for light to test whether plants partition light under conditions where it is a limiting resource, and if this resource partitioning leads to increased biomass production in mixtures (using relative yield-based methods). Further, we present the first application of a new model of light competition in plant communities. We show that under conditions where biomass production was high and light a limiting resource, only a minority of mixtures outperformed monocultures and overyielding was slight. The observed overyielding could not be explained by species differences in canopy structure and height in monoculture and was also not related to changes in the canopy traits of species when grown in mixture rather than monoculture. However, where overyielding occurred, it was associated with higher biomass density and light interception. In the new model of competition for light, greater light use complementarity was related to increased total energy absorption. Future work should address whether greater canopy space-filling is a cause or consequence of overyielding.

Abstract

Through complementary use of canopy space in mixtures, aboveground niche separation has the potential to promote
species coexistence and increase productivity of mixtures as compared to monocultures. We set up an experiment with five perennial grass species which differed in height and their ability to compete for light to test whether plants partition light under conditions where it is a limiting resource, and if this resource partitioning leads to increased biomass production in mixtures (using relative yield-based methods). Further, we present the first application of a new model of light competition in plant communities. We show that under conditions where biomass production was high and light a limiting resource, only a minority of mixtures outperformed monocultures and overyielding was slight. The observed overyielding could not be explained by species differences in canopy structure and height in monoculture and was also not related to changes in the canopy traits of species when grown in mixture rather than monoculture. However, where overyielding occurred, it was associated with higher biomass density and light interception. In the new model of competition for light, greater light use complementarity was related to increased total energy absorption. Future work should address whether greater canopy space-filling is a cause or consequence of overyielding.

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26 citations in Web of Science®
28 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Language:English
Date:April 2008
Deposited On:15 Jan 2009 12:47
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 12:43
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell
ISSN:0030-1299
Additional Information:The definitive version is available at www.blackwell-synergy.com.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/j.0030-1299.2008.16700.x

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