Populations of the two native vascular plant species on the Antarctic Peninsula have increased over the past 40 years. This increase has been attributed to improved reproductive performance resulting from regional warming and increased growing season length. However, little is known of the influence that vascular plants have on the performance of neighboring plants in developing and well-established communities. We compared the aboveground growth and reproduction of Deschampsia antarctica plants growing alone or in close proximity to neighboring plants (D. antarctica, Colobanthus quitensis, or mosses) at a young, recently colonized and an older, well-developed plant community on the Antarctic Peninsula to assess whether neighboring plants had a positive or negative effect on D. antarctica performance, and whether these effects varied from young to old communities. In both communities, tillers on D. antarctica plants near neighbors produced 48-89% fewer leaves and 49-93% fewer tillers than those on D. antarctica plants growing alone. These tillers also had relative growth rates that were 25-66% lower- and tiller-size indices that were 42-87% less than those on plants growing alone. In addition, the biomass of tillers on plants growing near neighbors was 40-91% lower than those on plants growing alone. Leaf and tiller production was generally higher in the older, more developed community than in the younger community. Our findings illustrate that vegetative growth of D. antarctica is reduced when growing in close proximity to neighboring plants, suggesting that negative plant interactions are an important constraint at our field sites.
- Glacial foreland
- Plant interactions
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)