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Keywords:

  • Agropyron repens;
  • Habitat fertility;
  • Nutrient addition;
  • Old-field;
  • Phleum pratense;
  • Poa pratensis;
  • Vegetation removal
  • Gleason & Cronquist (1963) for species mentioned in Table 1

Abstract. A field experiment encompassing both neighbour- and nutrient-manipulations was conducted in a nutrient-impoverished old-field habitat to investigate how the intensity of plant competition was affected by soil nutrient level. Three perennial grasses were used as target species: Agropyron repens, Poa pratensis and Phleum pratense. Neighbour manipulations involved the removal (through herbicide application) of all neighbouring vegetation within a 20 cm or 40 cm radius around target plants. Target performance was measured under five levels of added nutrients (N-P-K) in both the neighbour-removal plots and in non-removal (control) plots. Both neighbour and nutrient manipulations had a highly significant effect on both biomass and tiller production but the interaction between these treatments was generally insignificant. Below-ground/above-ground biomass quotient was affected only by neighbour manipulations and was greatest in the control plots (with no neighbours removed) for all three species. The suppressive effect of neighbours was not markedly affected by nutrient level. However, yield suppression showed a significant decreasing trend with increasing nutrient level for biomass production in Agropyron and an increasing trend for tiller production in Phleum. For Poa, there was no trend in the intensity of competition across nutrient level. The results suggest that the general intensity of competition within this community neither increases nor decreases with increasing nutrient level. Rather, coexisting species appear to respond individually in terms of the intensity of competition that they experience. These results conflict with predictions from the triangular C-S-R model of plant strategies. However, they are consistent with a recently modified ‘habitat templet’ model for vegetation.