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THE EFFECTS OF SHADING AND NUTRIENTS ON RESOURCE ALLOCATION IN AN EXOTIC INVASIVE, MICROSTEGIUM VIMINEUM.

THE EFFECTS OF SHADING AND NUTRIENTS ON RESOURCE ALLOCATION IN AN EXOTIC INVASIVE, MICROSTEGIUM VIMINEUM. Kevin Claridge [*] and Scott B. Franklin, The University of Memphis, Memphis, Tennessee. The invasion of alien species into natural ecosystems has been shown to negatively affect species diversity and ecosystem function. A framework for predicting the invasibility of an area and the capability of an alien plant to spread in natural systems is necessary for determining the magnitude and nature of environmental impact. Microstegium vimineum (Trin.) A. Camus is an invasive exotic grass that is colonizing numerous habitats because of its tolerance to various light and nutrient resources. It was hypothesized that this alien species may compensate for low light levels by spreading into nutrient rich soil, which is typical for its floodplain habitat. This grass also was thought to accelerate stolon production or vegetative biomass to increase spread in low light conditions, rather than expending energy on sexual reproductive bodies. The plasticity of th e plant modules involved in spread and the resource allocation of M. vimineum was examined under different light and nutrient levels using a balanced field and greenhouse study. The results from this experiment show that shading alters resource allocation patterns, but does not limit the overall invasibility due to the plastic use of the available resources. Plants grown in nutrient stressed environments greatly reduced reproductive spread. Conversely, altering the amount of available light for plants did not moderate distribution. M. vimineum seems to be taking advantage of an unutilized nutrient resource under the canopy to continue plant spread success. Investigations of resource drift within invasive exotic plants allow ecologists to govern and forecast both the present and future effects of these plants.
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Author:GALLAHER, KENT
Publication:Journal of the Tennessee Academy of Science
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2000
Words:282
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