How well do plant traits correlate with establishment ability? Evidence from a study of 16 calcareous grassland species

Michelle R. Leishman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

58 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The ability of 16 calcareous grassland species to establish in competition with adult neighbours of two different growth forms was assessed in a glasshouse experiment. The questions asked were: (1) how well is establishment ability related to plant traits such as seed mass, DNA content, relative growth rate and adult height; and (2) are the results consistent across different neighbours? Two measures of establishment ability were calculated, survival relative yield and biomass relative yield, for seedlings grown with a dicot. (Leontodon hispidus) and with a graminoid (Festuca ovina). The results depended on which measure of establishment ability was used. When establishment ability was measured in terms of biomass relative yield, seed mass was a good predictive trait, accounting for 38-55% of variation. However, when establishment ability was measured as survival relative yield, adult height was found to be the best predictor, capable of accounting for 20% of variation, although this was not consistent across neighbours. Thus, no clear relationship between plant traits and establishment ability was found: results depended on the measure of establishment ability used, and in the case of adult height, on the identity of the neighhour species. Survival relative yield was strongly associated with target and neighbour species growth form type, with stronger suppression of like than of non-like growth forms. The lack of strong relationships between plant traits and establishment ability, and the dependence on neighbour identity, suggests that the links between plant traits and establishment might be context-dependent; thus an understanding of the mechanisms underlying any such links is essential.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)487-496
Number of pages10
JournalNew Phytologist
Volume141
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1999
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Competition
  • DNA content
  • Growth form
  • Height
  • Relative growth rate (RGR)
  • Seed mass

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'How well do plant traits correlate with establishment ability? Evidence from a study of 16 calcareous grassland species'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this