Combining observational and experimental methods in plant–plant interaction research

Schöb, Christian and Kammer, Peter and Kikvidze, Zaal (2012) Combining observational and experimental methods in plant–plant interaction research. Plant Ecology & Diversity, 5. pp. 27-36. ISSN 1755-1668

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Background: Neighbour-removal experiments (NRE) and spatial pattern analyses (SPA) are commonly used methods to investigate plant–plant interactions. Although they address the same issue, they measure different aspects of plant interactions: experiments indicate contemporary processes, whilst observations of spatial patterns integrate the results of interactions that have prevailed in the past. Aim: The aim of this study was to propose a new conceptual approach that takes into account the chronological order between processes and the arising patterns i.e., the time lag between neighbour effects quantified with NRE and SPA, to detect shifts in the balance of plant interactions due to current environmental change. Methods: This conceptual approach was applied to alpine snowbeds. Data from NRE were used to calculate the importance index of current neighbour interactions. Spatial patterns were quantified using variance ratio statistics and were assumed to reflect historic interactions. Results: The results of the two approaches showed a consistent difference in the prevailing type of plant interactions and suggested a shift towards competition in recent times. Conclusions: The simultaneous application of NRE and SPA allows the detection of a recent shift in the balance of plant interactions and provides a deeper and more accurate insight into the temporal dynamics of plant communities that could not be gained using one method alone.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: Q Science > Ecology
Divisions: Institutes > 4D Research Institute
Depositing User: Prof. Zaal Kikvidze
Date Deposited: 16 Apr 2015 05:49
Last Modified: 16 Apr 2015 05:49

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