{Seedlings and ramets recruitment in two rhizomatous species of Rupestrian grasslands: Leiothrix curvifolia var. lanuginosa and Leiothrix crassifolia (Eriocaulaceae)}

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2008
Authors:Coelho, F. F., Capelo, C., Figueira J. E. C.
Journal:Flora - Morphology, Distribution, Functional Ecology of Plants
Keywords:flowering, phenology, seedling mortality

Leiothrix curvifolia var. lanuginosa and Leiothrix crassifolia are endemic and sympatric species in the Brazilian rupestrian grasslands, a habitat that has a predominance of sandy and shallow soils with low water retention. Based on the premise that soil moisture is one of the abiotic factors that affects most reproduction in plants, we hypothesized that the flowering phenology events and establishment of sexual and vegetative offspring would occur in the periods of higher soil water availability. We marked 478 ramets distributed among 100 genets of L. curvifolia var. lanuginosa and 693 ramets distributed among 100 genets of L. crassifolia, so that they could be observed monthly along the two rainy seasons from December 2003 to 2004. Both species showed phenological synchrony in the flower heads and seedlings production with soil moisture availability. Seedling mortality was intense in the dry period. Unlike the seedlings, the ramets survived was 100%. The greater capacity of ramets to survive can result from a much greater biomass compared with seedlings, and ramets become adult much faster. We conclude that for a successful seedling establishment, the synchronization with the rainy season was required, and moreover, that repeated seedling recruitment can be important for the maintenance of local populations of these species which suffer from high seedling mortality in the drought period. It is likely that the coincidence of the rainy period with seedling establishment is an important factor that determines the flowering phenological pattern of L. curvifolia var. lanuginosa and L. crassifolia in rupestrian grasslands.

Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith