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Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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Record number 357310
Title Herbivory and competition slow down invasion of a tall grass along a productivity gradient
Author(s) Kuijper, D.P.J.; Nijhoff, D.J.; Bakker, J.P.
Source Oecologia 141 (2004)3. - ISSN 0029-8549 - p. 452 - 459.
Department(s) Resource Ecology
Publication type Refereed Article in a scientific journal
Publication year 2004
Keyword(s) salt-marsh succession - geese branta-bernicla - seedling establishment - vegetation succession - communities - leucopsis - abundance - patterns - growth - plants
Abstract Competition models including competition for light predict that small plant species preferred by herbivores will be outshaded by taller unpreferred plant species with increasing productivity. When the tall plant species is little grazed by the herbivores, it can easily invade and dominate short vegetation. The tall-growing grass Elymus athericus dominates the highly productive stages of a salt-marsh succession in Schiermonnikoog and is not preferred by the herbivores which occur there, hares and geese. We studied how interspecific competition and herbivory affected performance during early establishment of this species with increasing productivity. Seedlings were planted in the field in a full factorial design, manipulating both interspecific competition and herbivory. The experiment was replicated along a natural productivity gradient. Competition reduced aboveground biomass production and decreased the number of ramets that were produced but did not affect survival of seedlings. The negative effects of competition on seedling performance increased with increasing productivity. In contrast to our expectations, herbivory strongly reduced seedling survival, especially at the unproductive sites and had only small effects on seedling growth. The present study shows that unpreferred tall-growing species cannot easily invade vegetation composed of short preferred species. Grazing by (intermediate-sized) herbivores can prevent establishment at unproductive sites, and increased competition can prevent a rapid invasion of highly productive sites. Herbivores can have a long-lasting impact on vegetation succession by preventing the establishment of tall-growing species, such as E. athericus, in a window of opportunity at young unproductive successional stages.
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