Spatial variation in vegetation and abiotic factors related to the occurrence of a ring-forming sedge
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The clonal sedge Carex humilis forms rings of densely aggregated ramets in a dry grassland community in Central Europe. We describe the small-scale spatial variation, both in abiotic factors and vegetation, in relation to these rings. Compared to the surrounding vegetation the cover of plants,other than C. humilis, was significantly lower both in the central area of rings and within the rings themselves. The vegetation structure was also different. The soil was more fertile in the central area and within the ring than in the surroundings, measured both directly and by the abiotic response values of the vascular plants. We conclude that neither resource depletion nor competition from other plants were likely to be responsible for the low ramet density in the central area of C. humilis rings. Instead, we suggest that the ring formis caused either by the deposition of growth inhibiting substancesor by intrinsic morphological rules.
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