Patterns of functional clonal traits and clonal growth modes in contrasting grasslands in the central Apennines, Italy
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Aim: Patterns of plant functional traits related to clonality (clonal growth modes; CGM) in plant communities were studied and hypotheses on the importance of the selected traits in plant communities supported by soils differing in moisture and nutrient status were tested. Material and Methods: Selected plant functional traits, such as the position of the mother‐daughter plants connections, length of spacers, frequency of multiplication, persistency of ramets connections, presence of storage organs and bud protection were studied in two contrasting plant communities (xeric and mesic abandoned pastures) typical of central Apennines, Italy. Results and Discussion: Clonality was shown to be of great importance in both mesic and xeric grasslands. The major differences between the two communities were due to the dominant CGMs: turf graminoids (having effective protection of growth meristems in dense tussocks) dominated xeric grasslands, while rhizomatous graminoids (typical of competitive resource‐rich environments) dominated mesic grasslands. Below‐ground CGOs (clonal growth organs), shorter spacers, higher multiplication potential, permanent ramet connection, large bud bank and increased importance of bud protection were found to be of importance in water stressed xeric grassland. Contrary to our expectations, the mesic (less stressed) grasslands have the higher number of clonal plants possessing storage organs.
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