Distribution of clonal growth traits among wetland habitats
Faculty of Sciences. Biology
Aquatic botany. - Amsterdam
, p. 88-93
University of Antwerp
Clonality resulting from the growth of specialized organs is common among plants in wetland habitats. We hypothesize that different wetland habitats select for different attributes of clonal traits. This hypothesis is based on studies of individual species but has not been previously tested at the level of habitat. We compared the functional diversity of clonal growth traits of plants in bogs, fens, wet heathlands, floodplains, river beds, open fresh water habitats, salt marshes, and open marine habitats. Clonal traits (including number of offspring, lateral spread, persistence of connections between ramets, and shoot life span) were analysed with multivariate techniques using species frequency data and with permutation tests using presence/absence data. Based on species frequencies, clonal plants in aquatic habitats (open fresh water habitats, open marine habitats, and river beds) were characterized by the abundant production of freely dispersible propagules, annual shoots, and splitting clones. Species of daily flooded salt marshes were characterized by bi-annual connections between ramets and medium dispersability. In contrast, plants in permanently wet bogs were characterized by polycyclic shoots and low offspring production. The specificity of river beds and open freshwater habitats was also confirmed by permutation tests, which gave equal weight to rare and abundant species. However, species in all other wetland habitats were characterized by the entire range of clonal traits, suggesting weak environmental filtering of analyzed traits by habitat at the present scale.