Living close to your neighbors: The importance of both competition and facilitation in plant communities

Alexandra Wright, Stefan A. Schnitzer, Peter B. Reich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

96 Scopus citations

Abstract

Recent work has demonstrated that competition and facilitation likely operate jointly in plant communities, but teasing out the relative role of each has proven difficult. Here we address how competition and facilitation vary with seasonal fluctuations in environmental conditions, and how the effects of these fluctuations change with plant ontogeny. We planted three sizes of pine seedlings (Pinus strobus) into an herbaceous diversity experiment and measured pine growth every two weeks for two growing seasons. Both competition and facilitation occurred at different times of year between pines and their neighbors. Facilitation was important for the smallest pines when environmental conditions were severe. This effect decreased as pines got larger. Competition was stronger than facilitation overall and outweighed facilitative effects at annual time scales. Our data suggest that both competition and the counter-directional effects of facilitation may be more common and more intense than previously considered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2213-2223
Number of pages11
JournalEcology
Volume95
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2014

Keywords

  • Diversity
  • Environmental severity
  • Net effects
  • Ontogeny
  • Pinus strobus
  • Stress gradient hypothesis
  • Theoretical ecology

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