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A meta-analysis of effects of physiological integration in clonal plants under homogeneous vs. heterogeneous environments

Citation

Wang, Jianyong et al. (2020), A meta-analysis of effects of physiological integration in clonal plants under homogeneous vs. heterogeneous environments, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.1c59zw3tc

Abstract

Summary

1. Clonal plants play key roles in maintaining community productivity and stability in many ecosystems. Connected individuals (ramets) of clonal plants can translocate and share e.g. photosynthates, water and nutrients, and such physiological integration may affect performance of clonal plants both in heterogeneous and homogeneous environments. However, we still lack a general understanding of whether or how physiological integration in clonal plants differs across homogeneous vs. heterogeneous environments.

2. We compiled data from 198 peer reviewed scientific studies conducted in 19 countries with 108 clonal plant species from 35 families, and carried out a meta-analysis of effects of physiological integration on 16 traits related to plant growth, morphology, physiology or allocation. Our analyses evaluated these relationships in A) heterogeneous environments where at least one resource essential for plant growth (e.g. light, soil water and mineral nutrients) or non-resource factor (e.g. grazing, trampling and burial) is spatially non-uniformly distributed, and B) homogeneous environments where all these factors are spatially uniformly distributed.

3. Physiological integration increased growth of whole clones in both homogeneous and heterogeneous environments due to its highly significant contribution to growth of recipient ramets. Integration did not affect growth of donor ramets in heterogeneous environments, but decreased it in homogeneous environments.

4. Integration affected physiological traits of donor ramets in neither homogeneous nor heterogeneous environments. It did not affect any physiological traits of recipient ramets in homogeneous environments, but increased most of them in heterogeneous environments. For donor ramets, integration increased height by 53% and internode length by 37% in heterogeneous environments, but had no effect in homogeneous environments. For recipient ramets, integration increased height by 73% in homogeneous environments and by 115% in heterogeneous environments, and increased internode length by 35% only under heterogeneous environments. In heterogeneous environments, integration increased biomass allocation to roots of donor ramets under high water/nutrient conditions and decreased it under high light.

5. Physiological integration plays a strong role in clonal plant physiology, morphology, and growth, especially for recipient ramets in heterogeneous environments. Therefore, physiological integration may have contributed to the widespread of clonal plants in nature and their dominance in many ecosystems. It may also play important roles in invasion success of alien clonal plants and in maintaining functions and stability of ecosystems where clonal plants are abundant.

Funding

National Natural Science Foundation of China, Award: U1603235

National Natural Science Foundation of China, Award: 31772652

National Natural Science Foundation of China, Award: 31802113

National Natural Science Foundation of China, Award: 31870610

Program for Introducing Talents to Universities, Award: B16011

Ministry of Education Innovation Team Development Plan, Award: 2013-373

Zhejiang Provincial Ten Thousand Plan for Young Top Talents, Award: 2018R52016

Program for Introducing Talents to Universities, Award: B16011

Ministry of Education Innovation Team Development Plan, Award: 2013-373