Journal Article

A leachate a day keeps the seedlings away: mowing and the inhibitory effects of <i>Festuca paniculata</i> in subalpine grasslands

Flore Viard-Crétat, Christiane Gallet, Marianne Lefebvre and Sandra Lavorel

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 103, issue 8, pages 1271-1278
Published in print June 2009 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online March 2009 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcp064
A leachate a day keeps the seedlings away: mowing and the inhibitory effects of Festuca paniculata in subalpine grasslands

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

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Background and Aims

Is the release of allelochemicals by the dominant tussock grass Festuca paniculata responsible for its dominance by inhibiting growth of neighbour grasses in subalpine grasslands? As such a community is also structured by mowing practices, what could be the impact of mowing on allelopathy?

Methods

A design was used that isolated allelopathy from resource competition by separating donor plants (Festuca paniculata) from target plants (F. paniculata, Dactylis glomerata and Bromus erectus). Leachates from donor pots containing bare soil, unmown F. paniculata or mown F. paniculata continuously irrigated target pots containing seedlings. Activated carbon was added in half of the target pots to adsorb potential allelochemicals. C and N analyses of target potting soil were used to test for any effect of treatments on resources. Total phenol concentration was measured in the solutions flowing from donor to target pots.

Results

Festuca paniculata leachates inhibited seedling growth of D. glomerata and B. erectus. Inhibition was correlated with polyphenol concentration, and was not due to resource competition for nitrogen. Mowing the leaves of the donor plants did not significantly increase this inhibition. The activated carbon treatment was not conclusive as it inhibited the seedling growing under control pots with only bare soil.

Conclusions

The results suggest that allelopathy may be at least partly responsible for F. paniculata dominance in subalpine meadows by inhibition of colonization by neighbouring species.

Keywords: Allelopathy; chemical interference; mowing; activated carbon; polyphenols; Festuca paniculata; Bromus erectus; Dactylis glomerata; subalpine; competition

Journal Article.  5629 words.  Illustrated.

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

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