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Seasonal plasticity of Ludwigia grandiflora under light and water depth gradients: An outdoor mesocosm experiment

Abstract : Abiotic factors in the introduced area can limit the establishment of exotic species. Adaptation to new abiotic parameters through plastic responses is important for their establishment and distribution pattern. Survival and growth of exotic hydrophytes are related to their plasticity and their ability to adapt to local conditions. Light and water depth are two of the predominant factors determining survival, growth, distribution and abundance of aquatic plants. Although many studies have been carried out on the effect of water level and light on plant performance, their potential interactions are poorly understood. Here, we carried out an outdoor mesocosm experiment, in order to test the role of water depth, light intensity and their potential interactions on the growth and vigour of the invasive macrophyte species Ludwigia grandiflora. Three light intensities (100%, 70% and 50% of sunlight) and three water depths (30, 50 and 80 cm) were tested over a 6-week period, in spring, summer and autumn 2011. We showed that the mortality, biomass, apical and lateral growth of L. grandiflora, as well as its biomass allocation, varied according to the season and responded to both light intensity and water depth. Interactions between water depth and light intensity can have an amplifying effect on the growth of L. grandiflora. Similarities between shade and deep water adaptation responses were observed. A higher biomass and a high morphological plasticity in response to these factors were found particularly at the beginning of the life cycle. Although the invasive amphibious L. grandiflora shows a high tolerance to different water levels and light intensities, the optimal growth conditions for L. grandiflora in our experiment seem to be under full sunlight and in 30 cm of water. Colonization of light or low shade aquatic habitats, as well as shallow environments, can occur due to the high plasticity of L. grandiflora. These results may be important relative to increasing level of water bodies under climatic changes.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, January 15, 2014 - 2:39:17 PM
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Lise Thouvenot, Jacques Haury, Gabrielle Thiébaut. Seasonal plasticity of Ludwigia grandiflora under light and water depth gradients: An outdoor mesocosm experiment. Flora, Elsevier, 2013, 208 (7), pp.430-437. ⟨10.1016/j.flora.2013.07.004⟩. ⟨hal-00931563⟩

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