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The Interactive Effects of Elevated CO₂, Temperature and Initial Size on Growth and Competition between a Native C₃ and an Invasive C₃ Grass

Sara E. L. Hely and Stephen H. Roxburgh
Plant Ecology
Vol. 177, No. 1 (2005), pp. 85-98
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20146715
Page Count: 14
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The Interactive Effects of Elevated CO₂, Temperature and Initial Size on Growth and Competition between a Native C₃ and an Invasive C₃ Grass
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Abstract

A controlled environment experiment was conducted to determine the impact of enhanced carbon dioxide and temperature on competition between the C₃ grasses Austrodanthonia eriantha and Vulpia myuros. Plants were grown in mixtures and monocultures to compare the responses both with and without an interspecific competitor. Temperature and CO₂ were set at current levels (350 ppm CO₂; 20 °C day and 10 °C night temperature), in factorial combination with enhanced levels (700 ppm CO₂; 23 °C day and 13 °C night temperature). To examine the potential impact of initial seedling size on competition under elevated CO₂ and temperature, the two species were combined in mixtures of differing initial sizes. Above-ground growth of all plants was enhanced by increased CO₂ and temperature alone, however the combined temperature and CO₂ treatment showed a sub-additive effect, where growth was less than expected based on the responses to each factor independently. Austrodanthonia in mixture with Vulpia plants of the same initial size experienced a 27% reduction in growth. Austrodanthonia grown in the presence of an initially larger Vulpia plant experienced a 58% reduction in growth. When the Vulpia plant was initially smaller than Austrodanthonia, growth of the Austrodanthonia was reduced by 16%. The growth of Vulpia appeared to be largely unaffected by the presence of Austrodanthonia. Variation in the CO₂ and temperature environment did not affect the pattern of these interspecific interactions, although there was some evidence to suggest that the degree of suppression of Austrodanthonia by Vulpia was less under elevated CO₂. These results do not support the initial advantage hypothesis, as Vulpia was always able to suppress Austrodanthonia, regardless of the initial relative sizes of the competitors. Furthermore, the lack of an effect of changing the CO₂ or temperature environment on the direction of interspecific competition suggests that the competitiveness of the invasive Vulpia will be minimally affected by changes in atmospheric CO₂ concentration or temperature.

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