Height convergence in response to neighbour growth: genotypic differences in the stoloniferous plant Potentilla reptans

Authors

  • Peter J. Vermeulen,

    1. Department of Plant Ecology and Biodiversity, Institute of Environmental Biology, Utrecht University, Sorbonnelaan 16, PO BOX 80084, 3508 TB Utrecht, the Netherlands
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  • Niels P. R. Anten,

    1. Department of Plant Ecology and Biodiversity, Institute of Environmental Biology, Utrecht University, Sorbonnelaan 16, PO BOX 80084, 3508 TB Utrecht, the Netherlands
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  • Feike Schieving,

    1. Department of Plant Ecology and Biodiversity, Institute of Environmental Biology, Utrecht University, Sorbonnelaan 16, PO BOX 80084, 3508 TB Utrecht, the Netherlands
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  • Marinus J. A. Werger,

    1. Department of Plant Ecology and Biodiversity, Institute of Environmental Biology, Utrecht University, Sorbonnelaan 16, PO BOX 80084, 3508 TB Utrecht, the Netherlands
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  • Heinjo J. During

    1. Department of Plant Ecology and Biodiversity, Institute of Environmental Biology, Utrecht University, Sorbonnelaan 16, PO BOX 80084, 3508 TB Utrecht, the Netherlands
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Author for correspondence:
Peter J. Vermeulen
Tel: +31 30 253 6699
Fax:+31 30 251 8366
Email: P.J.Vermeulen@uu.nl

Summary

  • • Using a new experimental set up, the way in which height growth of stoloniferous plants is adjusted to that of their neighbours, as well as differences between genotypes in their ability to keep up with neighbour height growth were tested.
  • • Five Potentilla reptans genotypes inherently differing in petiole length were subjected to three experimental light gradients, involving light intensity and red : far-red ratio. Each plant was placed in a vertically adjustable cylinder of green foil, and the treatments differed in the speed of cylinder height increase and final height.
  • • Total weight of plants decreased from the ‘Slow’ to the ‘Fast’ treatment, while petiole length increased. Leaves reaching the top of the cylinder stopped petiole elongation, resulting in similar final heights for all genotypes in the ‘Slow’ treatment. In the ‘Fast’ treatment only the fastest-growing genotype maintained its position in the top of the cylinder and genotypes differed strongly in final height within the cylinders.
  • • Plants adjust their height growth to that of the surrounding vegetation, leading to height convergence in short light gradients that slowly increase. These adjustments and genotypic differences in ability to keep up with fast-growing neighbours can influence the outcome of competition for light.

Ancillary