Effects of nutrient and soil moisture on competition between shape Carex stricta, Phalaris arundinacea, and Typha latifolia

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We investigated the importance of nutrients, soil moisture, arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF), and interspecific competition levels on the biomass allocation patterns of three wetland perennial plant species, Carex stricta Lam., Phalaris arundinacea L., and Typha latifolia L. A factorial experiment was conducted with high-low nutrient levels, high-low soil moisture levels, and with and without AMF inoculation. Under the experimental conditions, plant inoculation by AMF was too low to create a treatment and the AMF treatment was dropped from the total analysis. P. arundinacea and T. latifolia biomass were 73% and 77% higher, respectively, in the high nutrient treatment compared to the low nutrient treatment. Biomass allocation between shoots and roots remained relatively constant between environmental treatments, although shoot:root ratios of P. arundinacea declined in the low nutrient treatment. For C. stricta, the high nutrient and soil moisture treatments resulted in an increase in biomass of 50% and 15%, respectively. Shoot:root ratios were nearly constant among all environmental conditions. Biomass of T. latifolia and C. stricta was greatly decreased when grown with P. arundinacea. The rapid, initial height growth of P. arundinacea produced a spreading, horizontal canopy that overshadowed the vertical leaves of T. latifolia and C. stricta throughout the study. This pattern was repeated in both high and low nutrient and soil moisture treatments. When grown with P. arundinacea, C. stricta and T. latifolia significantly increased their mean shoot height, regardless of the nutrient or soil moisture level. The results of this experiment suggest that C. stricta and T. latifolia were light limited when growing with P. arundinacea and that canopy architecture is more important for biomass allocation than the other environmental conditions tested. The results also suggest that Phalaris arundinacea is an inherently better competitor (sensu Grime 1979) than C. stricta or T. latifolia.

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