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The Maintenance of Plant and Soil Heterogeneity in Dune Grassland

David J. Gibson
Journal of Ecology
Vol. 76, No. 2 (Jun., 1988), pp. 497-508
DOI: 10.2307/2260608
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2260608
Page Count: 12
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The Maintenance of Plant and Soil Heterogeneity in Dune Grassland
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Abstract

(1) A study was designed to investigate the relationship between plant patterns and soil heterogeneity in a stabilized dune grassland at Newborough Warren National Nature Reserve, Anglesey, Wales. (2) Removal of the shading effect of surrounding hummock plants showed that plant growth in hollows was limited by light, but not by soil nutrients. Removal of shading, like grazing, led to the vigorous growth of Holcus lanatus. (3) Using lithium as a tracer, there was evidence that the dominant grasses on the hummocks had different patterns of root activity with soil depth. Lateral roots in the hollows were active in drawing nutrients into the hummock system. (4) Soil heterogeneity did not appear to be controlling the plant patterns in the grassland. Rather, the plants themselves were inducing the soil patterns. Plant patterns were controlled by small mammal grazing and the low light levels in the hollows.

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