Multiple disturbances accelerate clonal growth in a potentially monodominant bamboo
Organisms capable of rapid clonal growth sometimes monopolize newly freed space and resources. We hypothesize that sequential disturbances might change short-term clonal demography of these organisms in ways that promote formation of monotypic stands. We examined this hypothesis by studying the clonal response of Arundinaria gigantea (giant cane, a bamboo) to windstorm and fire. We studied giant cane growing in both a large tornado-blowdown gap and under forest canopy, in burned and unburned plots, using a splitblock design. We measured density of giant cane ramets (culms) and calculated finite rates of increase (λ) for populations of ramets over three years. Ramet density nearly doubled in stands subjected to both windstorm and fire; the high ramet densities that resulted could inhibit growth in other plants. In comparison, ramet density increased more slowly after windstorm alone, decreased after fire alone, and remained in stasis in controls. We predict that small, sparse stands of giant cane could spread and amalgamate to form dense, monotypic stands (called "canebrakes") that might influence fire return intervals and act as an alternative state to bottomland forest. Other clonal species may similarly form monotypic stands following successive disturbances via rapid clonal growth. © 2008 by the Ecological Society of America.
Publication Source (Journal or Book title)
Gagnon, P., & Platt, W. (2008). Multiple disturbances accelerate clonal growth in a potentially monodominant bamboo. Ecology, 89 (3), 612-618. https://doi.org/10.1890/07-1255.1