Peer review artikel

Competition for light as a bottleneck for endangered fen species: An introduction experiment


“Many endangered plant species remain absent in rewetted, previously drained fens.
We performed a 3-year introduction experiment with endangered fen species (9 Carex- and 6 bryophyte species) in 4 hydrologically restored fens to investigate which factors hamper establishment and survival. Carex species were introduced as adults and seedlings, mosses as gametophytes. Introductions were done on (initially) bare soil, which allowed us to exclude excessive competition for light during the first year.
First year survival of the transplants was high in all fens (mean survival = 96%), indicating that there were no direct abiotic constraints on establishment. However, survival analysis revealed that a decrease in relative light intensity (RLI) at the soil surface during consecutive years (indicating an increase in biotic competition for light) drove high mortality rates in most species. As a result, overall final survival was lowest in the two most productive (low light) fens (mean survival = 38%), while most transplants persisted in the two less productive (high light) fens (mean survival = 79%). Taller and faster-growing Carex species were able to outgrow light limitation near the soil surface, and thus had a higher overall survivability than smaller and slower-growing species. Light limitation also drove the loss of 5 out of 6 bryophyte species.
We conclude that both dispersal limitation and asymmetric competition for light may explain the lack and loss of small and endangered plant species in rewetted fens. A minimum empirical threshold of c. 30% relative light intensity near the soil surface is required for successful introduction.”

© 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

(Citaat: Emsens, W., Aggenbach, C.J.S., et al. – Competition for light as a bottleneck for endangered fen species: An introduction experiment – Biological Conservation 220(2018)76-83)

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