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Seasonal Allocation of Dry Mass and Nitrogen in a Fynbos Endemic Restionaceae Species Thamnochortus punctatus Pill.

W. D. Stock, J. E. M. Sommerville and O. A. M. Lewis
Oecologia
Vol. 72, No. 2 (1987), pp. 315-320
Published by: Springer in cooperation with International Association for Ecology
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4218267
Page Count: 6
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Seasonal Allocation of Dry Mass and Nitrogen in a Fynbos Endemic Restionaceae Species Thamnochortus punctatus Pill.
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Abstract

The annual growth pattern of male plants of the endemic, dioecious fynbos species, Thamnochortus punctatus, revealed sequential growth of the various below- and above-ground organs. Root and rhizome development were favoured in the wet winter months while culm elongation occurred in the warmer but drier spring to summer period. The reproductive phase of development followed in the hot dry summer and autumn. The asynchronous pattern of growth is suggested to enable the plant to maximize utilization of scarce resources within the confines of the environmental controls determined by the mediterranean-climate. Maximum root and rhizome activity in the rainy season enabled the plant to absorb and store nitrogen in mature culms for later above ground organ development. As the absorption of nitrogen from senescing material is essential for this pattern of organ development to assist in alleviating nutrient scarcity the high degree of nitrogen reabsorption, 35 to 70% for branches and culms respectively, shows the potential importance of asynchronous organ growth in overcoming nitrogen limitation of plant growth. Comparisons of dry mass and nitrogen allocation patterns indicate that developmental strategies employed by evergreen, perennial plants in climatically and edaphically constrained environments cannot be deduced from biomass allocation patterns alone as they do not appear to reflect strategies evolved to overcome nutrient limitation.

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