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Dynamics of Associations Between Plants in Ten Old Fields During 31 Years of Succession

Randall W. Myster and S. T. A. Pickett
Journal of Ecology
Vol. 80, No. 2 (Jun., 1992), pp. 291-302
DOI: 10.2307/2261012
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2261012
Page Count: 12
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Dynamics of Associations Between Plants in Ten Old Fields During 31 Years of Succession
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Abstract

1. The pattern of significant associations between plants was examined in ten old fields during 31 years of succession by calculating rank correlations for species pairs in each old field during each sample year. Three hypotheses were tested concerning the dynamics of species interactions through succession, and correspondence was explored between the pattern of association and published results from field and glasshouse experiments. 2. The proportion, number and level of significance of associations between plants all declined with time. Annuals and biennials had a higher portion of significant associations and more positive associations than perennial species. Plant species involved in many significant associations and implicated as actively interacting with other species were generally neither native nor the most abundant. 3. Seventy per cent of the species analysed in the present study that had also been used in field and glasshouse experiments demonstrating competition reported in the literature, were involved in significant and repeated negative pairwise associations. However, only 33% of species used in field and glasshouse experiments demonstrating allelopathy showed such correspondence. Grasses may be major inhibitory species because they were involved in many significant negative plant associations although they did not achieve high abundance in these old fields. 4. Lonicera japonica and Rosa multiflora were woody species involved in many negative associations and may play major roles by inhibiting later successional species. 5. Investigations into the role of species interactions during succession may focus productively on those relatively few species that are strongly associated. The timing and the consequences of these associations may illuminate how interaction mechanisms such as competition and alleopathy structure successions.

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