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(Ecology) Plant Competition - Lab Report Example

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Introduction Competition, from a biological sense refers to a type of interaction between two or more organisms wherein the survival of one is affected by the presence of the other (Went, 1973; Bengtsson et al., 1994). In plant communities, competition among and within different plant species is recognized as a strong force that affects species composition and distribution, and may occur due to limited resources such as water, nutrients, and light (Went, 1973; Tschirhart, 2002)…
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(Ecology) Plant Competition Lab Report
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Download file to see previous pages Hence, it is logical to think that as the density of the plant increases, the more intense the competition becomes. In fact, this was demonstrated by Kothari et al. (1974) on Dichanthium annulatum, a dominant perennial grass species. It was observed in the study that as the number of plants increased from 17 to 135 individuals per meter-squared of land, the mean dry weight and nitrogen content per D. annulanum significantly decreased as compared to the other set-ups with lower plant densities. Meanwhile, interspecific competition refers to the interaction between two different plant species vying for the same resources (Freedman, 2011). Crops interspersed with weeds would be a good example of interspecific competition. Those species equipped with the least capacity to compete for the same environmental supply has to adapt or die eventually (Went, 1973). One of the earliest experimental investigations which catalogued the existence of competition within the floral community was conducted by Clements et al. (1929). Clements and his team planted sunflower, wheat, potatoes, and other plants species in varying distances with each other. Height (cm), leaf area (cm2), and dry weight (g) were then taken 80 days after planting (Clements et al., 1929). Results of the experiment indicated that the closer the plants are to each other, the more apparent growth inhibition becomes. Interestingly, increasing the number of plants per plot resulted to an overall production reaching a maximum value, which did not change even if spacing was decreased (Clements et al., 1929). It was also noted that growth of all plants within the same plot were equally inhibited (Clements et al., 1929). However, a different finding was observed by Wan et al. (2006) with the growth of Leymus chinensis, a C3 grass species and Chloris virgate, a C4 grass in a mixed pot culture. The researchers cultivated L chinensis in a 21 cm-diameter pots with 2 individuals per pot (monoculture) or mixed with C. virgate. Assimilation rate, quantum efficiency, light-saturated assimilation rate were then recorded for each set-up (Wan et al., 2006). Results revealed that interspecific competition significantly reduced the measured parameters for the C3 species. However, the presence of the C3 plants had no effect on the C4 species (Wan et al., 2006). The result suggested an asymmetric competition between a C3 and C4 species, with the negative effect taking its toll on the C3 plants only. Njambuya et al. (2011) also provided evidence in support of Wan et al. (2006) that indeed, asymmetric competition occurs. But Njambuya and her team discovered a significant finding: the response of the mixed culture of Lemna minuta, an invasive species and Lemna minor, a native species is also affected by the amount of nutrients supplemented into the culture. In the presence of high nutrient availability, the invasive species exhibited higher Relative Growth Rate (RGR) as compared to the native species (Njambuya et al., 2011) However, when under low nutrient conditions, the native species showed higher RGR relative to the invasive spec ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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