Response of Big and Little Bluestem (Andropogon) Seedlings to Soil and Moisture Conditions
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Citation:The Ohio Journal of Science. v82, n1 (March, 1982), 19-23
Growth responses of Andropogon gerardi Vitman (big bluestem) and A. scoparius Michx. (little bluestem) seedlings to variable soil type (silt loam vs. clay loam) and soil moisture (dry vs. wet) were examined when individuals were grown in pure and mixed-species cultures. Both species exhibited better growth in more mesic soils (wet and/or clay loam). Dry soil had a significant negative effect on shoot height, shoot production, and total production of A. gerardi and resulted in increased root/shoot ratios. Shoot height and shoot production of A. scoparius also declined in dry soil, but to a lesser extent. Growth of each species was not significantly different in pure and mixed-species cultures at the density employed in our study (495 plants/m2). Our data suggest that in natural prairie communities, interspecific interference between seedlings is relatively unimportant in determining the later distribution of adults. Rather, A. gerardi is restricted to mesic lowland sites because of seedling sensitivity to drier conditions; and A. scoparius is excluded from these sites through shading by the taller, mature A. gerardi. Seedling tolerance to low soil moisture allows A. scoparius to colonize xeric upland sites and therefore coexist with A. gerardi.
Author Institution: Institute of Environmental Sciences ; Department of Botany, Miami University
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