Evidence for optimal partitioning of biomass and nitrogen at a range of nitrogen availabilities for a fast- and slow-growing species

A. Van Der Werf, A. J. Visser, F. Schieving, H. Lambers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

93 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Examined Briza media, a species characteristic of nutrient-poor soils, and Dactylis glomerata, a species characteristic of nutrient-rich soils, at a range of nitrogen availabilities. Based on the experimentally determined rates of physiological processes and morphological characteristics (photosynthesis, shoot and root respiration, allocation of fixed carbon and nitrogen, and specific leaf area), a dynamic vegetative growth model was constructed. The model describes the relative growth rate (biomass increment per unit of biomass present per day) and N productivity (biomass increment per unit of organic N present in the plant per day) as a function of N availability. At low availability of nitrogen, B. media and D. glomerata partitioned their biomass and N in such a way as to maximize both their relative growth rate and nitrogen productivity. At high availability of N, the two species partitioned their biomass and N close to their optimum with respect to relative growth rate, but not with respect to N productivity. Model simulation shows that at a low rate of N uptake per unit root weight, ie reflecting a low availability of N in a given environment, species attain an equal relative growth rate and N productivity, whereas at high N availability D. glomerata achieves a higher relative growth rate and nitrogen productivity than B. media does. Optimal partitioning of biomass and nitrogen with respect to relative growth rate and N productivity thus cannot explain the success of an inherently slow-growing species in a nutrient-poor environment. -from Authors

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-74
Number of pages12
JournalFunctional Ecology
Volume7
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1993
Externally publishedYes

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