Testing the Shifting Persistence Niche Concept: Plant Resprouting along Gradients of Disturbance

Peter J Clarke, Dorothy M. Bell, Michael Lawes

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    Abstract

    Plant resprouting after disturbance confers community resilience because individuals persist through trade-offs in resources for buds versus those required to produce seeds. However, repeated disturbance may deplete bud banks, and population persistence may become increasingly reliant on regeneration from seed. Theory predicts a shift in community assemblage from species with a strategy of persistence by resprouting (persistence niche) to one of regeneration from seed (regeneration niche) as the disturbance frequency increases. We tested, for the first time, the shifting persistence niche concept in a model system at local and regional community scales using a phylogenetically diverse floristic assemblage. Persistence traits of vascular plants were modeled as a function of dry-down frequency in wetlands. Resprouting species occupying the persistence niche were more common in stable wetlands than in those more frequently disturbed by dry downs. The patterns of resprouting species in standing vegetation and in seed banks provide strong support for the shifting persistence niche model involving trade-offs between resprouting (clonality) and sexual reproduction.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)747-755
    Number of pages9
    JournalAmerican Naturalist
    Volume185
    Issue number6
    Early online date6 Apr 2015
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2015

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