Data from: Direct litter interference and indirect soil competitive effects of two contrasting phenotypes of a spiny legume shrub drive the forb composition of an oromediterranean community
Michalet, Richard; Maalouf, Jean-Paul; Al Hayek, Patrick (2016), Data from: Direct litter interference and indirect soil competitive effects of two contrasting phenotypes of a spiny legume shrub drive the forb composition of an oromediterranean community, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.5n675
Contrasting phenotypes of foundation species are known to differentially affect understorey plants. However, there is little knowledge on both the mechanisms of competition (resource competition versus interference) of stress-tolerant phenotypes and the importance of indirect interactions. In an oromediterranean community from Mount Lebanon we assessed the effects on understorey forbs of two contrasting phenotypes, a tight competitive from stressful habitat and a loose facilitative from more benign habitat. In a dry south and a wet north exposure we assessed short-term resource effects removing shrub canopy and long-term soil effects (including litter interference) with the comparison of forb performances in adjacent naturally open areas vs no shrub. Indirect effects were quantified through the removal of grasses. Abundance, richness and biomass of forbs were measured in all treatments after one year of experiment, together with litter depth and soil moisture. We found strong direct negative soil effects of the tight phenotype on all forb performances and in particular in south exposure. These effects were due to litter interference on water availability, but not to resource competition. They were likely explained by the high hydrophobicity of organic matter accumulating in the stressful habitat of the tight phenotype. We also found an indirect competition of the loose phenotype for forb richness, due to its direct positive soil effect on competitive grasses, and in particular in south exposure. Our results improve our knowledge on the importance of litter interference in dry nutrient-poor habitats and the role of indirect interactions in phenotypic effects on understorey species.
Ouyoun El Simane Kfardebian