Journal Article

Flooding Effects on Plants Recovering from Defoliation in <i>Paspalum dilatatum</i> and <i>Lotus tenuis</i>

G. G. Striker, P. Insausti and A. A. Grimoldi

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 102, issue 2, pages 247-254
Published in print August 2008 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online May 2008 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI:
Flooding Effects on Plants Recovering from Defoliation in Paspalum dilatatum and Lotus tenuis

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  • Ecology and Conservation
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Plant Sciences and Forestry


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Background and Aims

Flooding and grazing are major disturbances that simultaneously affect plant performance in many humid grassland ecosystems. The effects of flooding on plant recovery from defoliation were studied in two species: the grass Paspalum dilatatum, regrowing primarily from current assimilation; and the legume, Lotus tenuis, which can use crown reserves during regrowth.


Plants of both species were subjected to intense defoliation in combination with 15 d of flooding at 6 cm water depth. Plant recovery was evaluated during a subsequent 30-d growth period under well-watered conditions. Plant responses in tissue porosity, height, tiller or shoot number and biomass of the different organs were assessed.

Key Results

Flooding increased porosity in both P. dilatatum and L. tenuis, as expected in flood-tolerant species. In P. dilatatum, defoliation of flooded plants induced a reduction in plant height, thus encouraging the prostrated-growth response typical of defoliated plants rather than the restoration of contact with atmospheric oxygen, and most tillers remained submerged until the end of the flooding period. In contrast, in L. tenuis, plant height was not reduced when defoliated and flooded, a high proportion of shoots being presented emerging above water (72 %). In consequence, flooding plus defoliation did not depress plant recovery from defoliation in the legume species, which showed high sprouting and use of crown biomass during regrowth, whereas in the grass species it negatively affected plant recovery, achieving 32 % lower biomass than plants subjected to flooding or defoliation as single treatments.


The interactive effect of flooding and defoliation determines a reduction in the regrowth of P. dilatatum that was not detected in L. tenuis. In the legume, the use of crown reserves seems to be a key factor in plant recovery from defoliation under flooding conditions.

Keywords: Allocation; defoliation; flooding; Lotus tenuis; Paspalum dilatatum; submergence

Journal Article.  5639 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ecology and Conservation ; Evolutionary Biology ; Plant Sciences and Forestry

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