DescriptionPlant-plant facilitation and competition are key processes structuring the vegetation development of salt marshes. Variations in fine-scaled plant interactions scale-up to larger vegetation spatial patterns and ecosystem functions as a whole. For instance, in the presence of grazers, associational resistance provided by patches of herbivore resistant species can have large impacts on vegetation composition.However, how plant interactions are impacted by species traits, biotic stress and environmental severity in dynamic systems remains poorly understood. Using a reciprocal transplant experiment we investigated how two ecotypes of the grass Elytrigia atherica is impacted when planted within and outside of Juncus maritimus patches occurring in the eastern salt marsh of Schiermonnikoog, the Netherlands. Although the survival and height of E. atherica plantings was not affected by the ecotype,plant height was lowest outside of patches in the grazed marsh and not affected by inundation frequency. This contrasts to the survival of the plantings which was highest in the grazed marsh and low inundation frequency. We found that through associational resistance, J. maritimus facilitates the height of E. atherica but not the survival. Understanding fine-scaled plant-plant interactions and the mechanisms of facilitation may inform best management practices for conservation and restoration.
|Netherlands Annual Ecology Meeting 2022
|Netherlands Ecological Research Network (NERN)
|Degree of Recognition