How Past and Present Influence the Foraging of Clonal Plants?

Abstract

Clonal plants spreading horizontally and forming a network structure of ramets exhibit complex growth patterns to maximize resource uptake from the environment. They respond to spatial heterogeneity by changing their internode length or branching frequency. Ramets definitively root in the soil but stay interconnected for a varying period of time thus allowing an exchange of spatial and temporal information. We quantified the foraging response of clonal plants depending on the local soil quality sampled by the rooting ramet (i.e. the present information) and the resource variability sampled by the older ramets (i.e. the past information). We demonstrated that two related species, Potentilla reptans and P. anserina, responded similarly to the local quality of their environment by decreasing their internode length in response to nutrient-rich soil. Only P. reptans responded to resource variability by decreasing its internode length. In both species, the experience acquired by older ramets influenced the plastic response of new rooted ramets: the internode length between ramets depended not only on the soil quality locally sampled but also on the soil quality previously sampled by older ramets. We quantified the effect of the information perceived at different time and space on the foraging behavior of clonal plants by showing a non-linear response of the ramet rooting in the soil of a given quality. These data suggest that the decision to grow a stolon or to root a ramet at a given distance from the older ramet results from the integration of the past and present information about the richness and the variability of the environment.

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0038288

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@inproceedings{Loupre2012HowPA, title={How Past and Present Influence the Foraging of Clonal Plants?}, author={Philipe Lou{\^a}pre and Anne-Kristel Bittebi{\`e}re and Bernard Cl{\'e}ment and J Pierre and Cendrine Mony}, booktitle={PloS one}, year={2012} }