Publication Details

Category Text Publication
Reference Category Journals
DOI 10.1111/j.1600-0706.2013.00921.x
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Title (Primary) The role of belowground competition and plastic biomass allocation in altering plant mass–density relationships
Author Lin, Y.; Huth, F.; Berger, U.; Grimm, V.
Journal Oikos
Year 2014
Department OESA; iDiv
Volume 123
Issue 2
Page From 248
Page To 256
Language englisch
UFZ wide themes RU5;
Abstract Metabolic scaling theory (MST) predicts a ‘universal scaling law’ for plant mass–density relationships, but empirical observations are more variable. Possible explanations of this variability include plasticity in biomass allocation between the above- and belowground compartment and different modes of competition, which can be asymmetric or symmetric. Although complex interactions of these factors are likely to occur, so far the majority of modelling and empirical studies has focussed on mono-factorial explanations. We here present a generic individual-based model, which allows exploring the plant mass–density relationship in realistic settings by representing plasticity of biomass allocation and different modes of competition in the above- and belowground compartment. Plants grew according to an ontogenetic growth model derived from MST. To evaluate the behavior of the simulated plants related to the allocation patterns and to validate model predictions, we conducted greenhouse experiments with tree seedlings. The model reproduced empirical patterns both at the individual and population level. Without belowground resource limitation, aboveground processes dominated and the slopes of mass–density relationships followed the predictions of MST. In contrast, resource limitation led to an increased allocation of biomass to belowground parts of the plants. The subsequent dominance of symmetric belowground competition caused significantly shallower slopes of the mass–density relationship, even though the growth of individual plants followed MST. We conclude that changes in biomass allocation induced by belowground resource limitation explain the deviations from the mass–density relationship predicted by MST. Taking into account the plasticity of biomass allocation and its linkage to the above- and belowground competition is critical for fully representing plant communities, in particular for correctly predicting their response of carbon storage and sequestration to changing environmental conditions.
Persistent UFZ Identifier
Lin, Y., Huth, F., Berger, U., Grimm, V. (2014):
The role of belowground competition and plastic biomass allocation in altering plant mass–density relationships
Oikos 123 (2), 248 - 256