Herbivory and plant community structure in a subarctic altitudinal gradient
1993 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
The object of this thesis was to study plant community structure, especially in relation to vertebrate herbivory, in an altitudinal gradient in the Fennoscandian mountain chain.
A sowing experiment in a high alpine Ranunculus glacialis population showed that seeds germinated better in cleared microsites than under established individuals. This is contrasted with a hypothesis that predicts positive plant-plant interactions in high alpine environments. It was concluded that plant-plant interactions in die studied population varied from neutral to negative, whereas no indications for positive interactions were found.
An exclosure experiment in a snow-bed showed that a lemming population consumed 33 % of the available graminoids and 66 % of the mosses from August to June during a population peak. The results shows that grazing needs to be considered as a structuring factor in snow-bed vegetation.
The vegetation in exclosures in another snow-bed changed from a graminoid-dominated to a herb-dominated plant community during a long-term (six years) experiment No changes of the same magnitude were seen in a tall herb meadow on a lower altitude. Survival of transplanted adult shoots from the tall herb meadow was equally high in the snow-bed as on the meadow, and germination was also high on bare ground in the snow-bed. Grazing seemed to be a more important structuring factor in the snow-bed than in the more productive tall herb meadow.
Raising the grazing pressure during one growing season by introducing microtine rodents into enclosures did not cause any large short-term effects on plant community structure in a tall hob meadow or in a snow-bed. Marked shoots showed that some preferred plant species had a high shoot mortality, but biomass for pooled categories of plants was not significantly affected. It was predicted that the tall herb meadow would be more grazing sensitive than die snow-bed, but productivity on the meadow seemed to be sufficiently high for the plants to compensate for the grazing during the growing season.
A greenhouse experiment showed that voles, when grazing freely, have the potential to deplete productive field layer vegetation contrary to predictions from plant defence theories. A nitrogen-based defence did not prevent heavy shoot mortality for toxic tall herbs.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Univ. , 1993. , 37 p.
arctic and alpine vegetation, competition, exclosures, lemmings, plant defences, plant-plant interactions, Ranunculus glacialis, snow-bed, structuring factors, tall herb meadow, vertebrate grazing, voles
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-102558ISBN: 91-7174-747-8OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-102558DiVA: diva2:808718
1993-04-29, Naturvetarhuset, Hörsal C, Umeå universitet, Umeå, 10:00
Huntly, Nancy, Dr.
Diss. (sammanfattning) Umeå : Umeå universitet, 1993, härtill 5 uppsatser.2015-05-042015-04-282015-11-11Bibliographically approved