Recent work has demonstrated that competition and facilitation likely operate jointly in plant communities, but teasing out the relative role of each has proven difficult. Here we address how competition and facilitation vary with seasonal fluctuations in environmental conditions, and how the effects of these fluctuations change with plant ontogeny. We planted three sizes of pine seedlings (Pinus strobus) into an herbaceous diversity experiment and measured pine growth every two weeks for two growing seasons. Both competition and facilitation occurred at different times of year between pines and their neighbors. Facilitation was important for the smallest pines when environmental conditions were severe. This effect decreased as pines got larger. Competition was stronger than facilitation overall and outweighed facilitative effects at annual time scales. Our data suggest that both competition and the counter-directional effects of facilitation may be more common and more intense than previously considered.
Alexandra Wright, Stefan A. Schnitzer, and Peter B. Reich 2014. Living close to your neighbors: the importance of both competition and facilitation in plant communities. Ecology 95:2213–2223
Wright, Alexandra; Schnitzer, Stefan A.; Reich, Peter B..
Living close to your neighbors – the importance of both competition and facilitation in plant communities.
Ecological Society of America.
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