Population biology of the clonal plant Ranunculus lingua

Detta är en avhandling från Umeå : Umeå universitet

Sammanfattning: The scope of this thesis was to identify, describe and quantify important life-history traits for the pseudoannual aquatic plant Ranunculus lingua in different ecological settings, by comparing populations from geographically marginal vs. central habitats.Results from a four-year field study showed that abiotic factors (water-level fluctuations and associated processes) tended to have a greater influence in marginal populations, whereas biotic factors (competition, insect grazing and fungal infections) dominated in central populations. This was reflected in different depth distribution of ramet numbers and ramet sizes between the areas, and In different dynamic patterns, with a higher flux of ramets in marginal populations.In a reciprocal transplant experiment, marginal ramets produced more but smaller rhizomes, whereas central ramets produced Individually larger but fewer rhizomes, irrespective of transplant site. A possible selection for genotypes producing large rhizomes in the central habitat was supported by the fact that initially smaller ramets were more likely to be diseased by the fungal pathogen Peronospora gigantea and damaged by insect grazing. In the marginal population, where density-independent mortality factors tend to dominate, a high reproductive output, expressed in production of high numbers of rhizomes, was suggested to be a favoured life-history trait.In a glasshouse experiment, ramets from marginal and central populations were grown in low and high densities and under three contrasting nutrient levels. The allocation to sexual structures was generally very low, and did not incur any costs in terms of reduced rhizome production. Rhizome production showed strong positive allometrical relationships to mother ramet size. Increasing mother ramet size resulted in a larger increase in rhizome numbers for the marginal than for the central population, whereas the increase in mean rhizome mass was more pronounced for the centred population. Both populations showed similar reductions in rhizome production in response to increased density and lowered nutrient levels, which could not be explained by size-dependent effects adone.The dispersal, dynamics and distribution of R. lingua were studied in a marginal river population in northern Sweden, where the only means of dispersal is by vegetative diaspores, i.e. floating rhizome fragments. Stranding occurred mainly in river curves and at obstacles, and the distribution of established stands was also highly correlated with these features. Relative changes in ramet numbers were correlated with water-level fluctuations during the present and previous growing seasons, with winter low-water, and with duration of spring-flood. The predictability of change was high within but low between stands. It was concluded that the patterns and mechanisms of dispersal are fundamental for local distribution patterns as well as variation in regional abundance in R. lingua