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Mutual positive effects between shrubs in an arid ecosystem.

Tirado R, Bråthen KA, Pugnaire FI - Sci Rep (2015)

Bottom Line: However, reciprocal positive effects benefiting two interacting species have seldom been reported and, in recent reviews, conceptually considered merely as facilitation when in fact there is room for adaptive strategies and evolutionary responses.We found that the spatial association between Maytenus senegalensis and Whitania frutescens, two shrub species of roughly similar size intimately interacting in our community, resulted in mutual benefit for both species.Benefits included improved water relations and nutritional status and protection against browsing, and did occur despite simultaneous competition for resources.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Estación Experimental de Zonas Áridas, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Ctra. Sacramento s/n, La Cañada, E-04120 Almería, Spain.

ABSTRACT
One-way facilitation in plants has been found in many harsh environments and their role as structural forces governing species composition in plant communities is now well established. However, reciprocal positive effects benefiting two interacting species have seldom been reported and, in recent reviews, conceptually considered merely as facilitation when in fact there is room for adaptive strategies and evolutionary responses. We tested the existence of such reciprocal positive effects in an arid environment in SE Spain using spatial pattern analysis, a species removal experiment, and a natural experiment. We found that the spatial association between Maytenus senegalensis and Whitania frutescens, two shrub species of roughly similar size intimately interacting in our community, resulted in mutual benefit for both species. Benefits included improved water relations and nutritional status and protection against browsing, and did occur despite simultaneous competition for resources. Our data suggest two-way facilitation or, rather, a facultative mutualism among higher plant species, a process often overlooked which could be a main driver of plant community dynamics allowing for evolutionary processes.

No MeSH data available.


Nitrogen and phosphorus leaf concentration in Whitania and Maytenus shrubs growing isolated (clear bars) or with neighbors (solid bars).n = 3. Data are mean ± 1 SE; statistically significant differences at P < 0.05 (U Mann-Whitney test) noted by *.
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f3: Nitrogen and phosphorus leaf concentration in Whitania and Maytenus shrubs growing isolated (clear bars) or with neighbors (solid bars).n = 3. Data are mean ± 1 SE; statistically significant differences at P < 0.05 (U Mann-Whitney test) noted by *.

Mentions: Whitania shrubs living isolated did not differ from plants living with Maytenus regarding leaf N content, but leaf P was higher in plants living with Maytenus (Fig. 3). Conversely, N content in Maytenus leaves was highest in plants living with Maytenus, while P did not differ between treatments (Fig. 3).


Mutual positive effects between shrubs in an arid ecosystem.

Tirado R, Bråthen KA, Pugnaire FI - Sci Rep (2015)

Nitrogen and phosphorus leaf concentration in Whitania and Maytenus shrubs growing isolated (clear bars) or with neighbors (solid bars).n = 3. Data are mean ± 1 SE; statistically significant differences at P < 0.05 (U Mann-Whitney test) noted by *.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4588512&req=5

f3: Nitrogen and phosphorus leaf concentration in Whitania and Maytenus shrubs growing isolated (clear bars) or with neighbors (solid bars).n = 3. Data are mean ± 1 SE; statistically significant differences at P < 0.05 (U Mann-Whitney test) noted by *.
Mentions: Whitania shrubs living isolated did not differ from plants living with Maytenus regarding leaf N content, but leaf P was higher in plants living with Maytenus (Fig. 3). Conversely, N content in Maytenus leaves was highest in plants living with Maytenus, while P did not differ between treatments (Fig. 3).

Bottom Line: However, reciprocal positive effects benefiting two interacting species have seldom been reported and, in recent reviews, conceptually considered merely as facilitation when in fact there is room for adaptive strategies and evolutionary responses.We found that the spatial association between Maytenus senegalensis and Whitania frutescens, two shrub species of roughly similar size intimately interacting in our community, resulted in mutual benefit for both species.Benefits included improved water relations and nutritional status and protection against browsing, and did occur despite simultaneous competition for resources.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Estación Experimental de Zonas Áridas, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Ctra. Sacramento s/n, La Cañada, E-04120 Almería, Spain.

ABSTRACT
One-way facilitation in plants has been found in many harsh environments and their role as structural forces governing species composition in plant communities is now well established. However, reciprocal positive effects benefiting two interacting species have seldom been reported and, in recent reviews, conceptually considered merely as facilitation when in fact there is room for adaptive strategies and evolutionary responses. We tested the existence of such reciprocal positive effects in an arid environment in SE Spain using spatial pattern analysis, a species removal experiment, and a natural experiment. We found that the spatial association between Maytenus senegalensis and Whitania frutescens, two shrub species of roughly similar size intimately interacting in our community, resulted in mutual benefit for both species. Benefits included improved water relations and nutritional status and protection against browsing, and did occur despite simultaneous competition for resources. Our data suggest two-way facilitation or, rather, a facultative mutualism among higher plant species, a process often overlooked which could be a main driver of plant community dynamics allowing for evolutionary processes.

No MeSH data available.