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Data from: Plant size and competitive dynamics along nutrient gradients


Goldberg, Deborah E.; Martina, Jason; Elgersma, Kenneth; Currie, William S. (2017), Data from: Plant size and competitive dynamics along nutrient gradients, Dryad, Dataset,


Resource competition theory in plants has focused largely on resource-acquisition traits that are independent of size such as traits of individual leaves or roots or proportional allocation to different functions. However plants also differ in maximum potential size which could outweigh differences in module-level traits. We used a community-ecosystem model called MONDRIAN to investigate whether larger size inevitably increases competitive ability and how size interacts with nitrogen supply. Contrary to the conventional wisdom that bigger is better we found that invader success and competitive ability are unimodal functions of maximum potential size such that plants that are too large %28or too small%29 are disproportionately suppressed by competition. Optimal size increases with nitrogen supply even when plants compete only for nitrogen in a size-symmetric manner although adding size-asymmetric competition for light does substantially increase the advantage of larger size at high nitrogen. These complex interactions of plant size and nitrogen supply lead to strong nonlinearities such that small differences in nitrogen can result in big differences in plant invasion success and the influence of competition along productivity gradients.

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