Title: Limited by the host: Host age hampers establishment of holoparasite Cuscuta epithymum
Authors: Meulebrouck, Klaar ×
Verheyen, Kris
Brys, Rein
Hermy, Martin #
Issue Date: Jul-2009
Publisher: Gauthier-villars/editions elsevier
Series Title: Acta Oecologica vol:35 issue:4 pages:533-540
Abstract: A good understanding of the relationship between plant establishment and the ecosystem of which they are part of is needed to conserve rare plant species. Introduction experiments offer a direct test of recruitment limitation, but generally only the seed germination and seedling phases are monitored. Thus the relative importance of different establishment stages in the process of recruitment is not considered. This is particularly true for parasitic plants where empirical data are generally missing. During two consecutive growing seasons we examined the effect of heathland management applications, degree of heathland Succession (pioneer, building and mature phase) and seed-density on the recruitment and establishment of the endangered holoparasite Cuscuta epithymum. In general, recruitment after two growing seasons was low with 4.79% of the sown seeds that successfully emerged to the seedling stage and a final establishment of 89 flowering adults (i.e. <1.5% of the sown seeds). Although a higher seed-density resulted in a higher number of seedlings, seed-density did not significantly affected relative germination percentages. The management type and subsequent heath succession had no significant effect on seedling emergence: whereas, seedling attachment to the host, establishment and growth to full-grown size were hampered in older heath vegetation (i.e. high, dense, and mature canopy). Establishment was most successful in turf-cut pioneer heathland, characterised by a relatively open and low vegetation of young Calluna vulgaris. The age of C. vulgaris, C. epithymum's main host, proved to be the most limiting factor. These results emphasise the importance of site quality (i.e. successional phase of its host) on recruitment success of C epithymum, which is directly affected by the management applied to the vegetation. Lack of any heathland management will thus seriously restrict establishment of the endangered parasite.
ISSN: 1146-609X
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: IT
Appears in Collections:Division Forest, Nature and Landscape Research
× corresponding author
# (joint) last author

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