View More View Less
  • 1 Czech University of Life Sciences Prague, Kamýcká 129, Praha 6 — Suchdol, CZ-165 21, Czech Republic
Restricted access

Studies of perennial plants generally search for a seed size vs. seed number trade-off. Surprisingly, the fact that perennials may replace an investment in large seeds by the allocation to vegetative propagation has not yet been investigated as an additional pathway enabling species coexistence. We focused on the mechanisms of coexistence in Carex elata and C. elongata, two co-occurring clonal sedges dominant in European swamp alder forests. We asked the following questions: i) Is the number of germinated seeds a better predictor of species coexistence than the total number of seeds? ii) What recruitment conditions and competition rules determine vegetative sprouting to be an alternative to large, competitively superior seeds? We measured several species functional traits related to the colonisation and fitness of perennials. To examine the competitive hierarchy between species and microsite species preferences, we analysed the effects of environmental factors and plant densities on fitness-related traits using Structural Equation Modelling (SEM). Then, using a series of spatially explicit simulations partly parameterised based on the field measurement, we evaluated the importance of seed and ramet propagation and recruitment conditions for long-term species coexistence. SEM indicated a competitive hierarchy and a large overlap in microsite preferences between species. As a response to our initial questions we found that: i) Only differences in the numbers of germinated seeds, allowed the two species to coexist. If we consider only differences in the total number of seeds, the superior competitor (Carex elata) outcompeted the inferior competitor (C. elongata) in all scenarios. This is because the former produced about three-times as many seeds as the latter. ii) We show that vegetative sprouting represents an additional pathway for the seed size-number trade-off when the competitive superiority of species is attributed to vegetative propagation. This is another way that a species deals with the omnipresent seeds of other species. Taken together, our study demonstrates that differences in seed performance, coupled with differences in vegetative propagation related to competitive ability, are an additional mechanism allowing the coexistence of perennial plants.

Supplementary Materials

    • Supplementary Material

Click HERE for submission guidelines.

Manuscript submission: COMEC Manuscript Submission


Senior editors

Editor(s)-in-Chief: Podani, János

Editor(s)-in-Chief: Jordán, Ferenc

Honorary Editor(s): Orlóci, László

Editorial Board

  • Madhur Anand, CAN (forest ecology, computational ecology, and ecological complexity)
  • S. Bagella, ITA (temporal dynamics, including succession, community level patterns of species richness and diversity, experimental studies of plant, animal and microbial communities, plant communities of the Mediterranean)
  • P. Batáry, HUN (landscape ecology, agroecology, ecosystem services)
  • P. A. V. Borges, PRT (community level patterns of species richness and diversity, sampling in theory and practice)
  • A. Davis, GER (supervised learning, multitrophic interactions, food webs, multivariate analysis, ecological statistics, experimental design, fractals, parasitoids, species diversity, community assembly, ticks, biodiversity, climate change, biological networks, cranes, olfactometry, evolution)
  • Z. Elek, HUN (insect ecology, invertebrate conservation, population dynamics, especially of long-term field studies, insect sampling)
  • T. Kalapos, HUN (community level plant ecophysiology, grassland ecology, vegetation-soil relationship)
  • G. M. Kovács, HUN (microbial ecology, plant-fungus interactions, mycorrhizas)
  • W. C. Liu,TWN (community-based ecological theory and modelling issues, temporal dynamics, including succession, trophic interactions, competition, species response to the environment)
  • L. Mucina, AUS (vegetation survey, syntaxonomy, evolutionary community ecology, assembly rules, global vegetation patterns, mediterranean ecology)
  • P. Ódor, HUN (plant communities, bryophyte ecology, numerical methods)
  • F. Rigal, FRA (island biogeography, macroecology, functional diversity, arthropod ecology)
  • D. Rocchini, ITA (biodiversity, multiple scales, spatial scales, species distribution, spatial ecology, remote sensing, ecological informatics, computational ecology)
  • F. Samu, HUN (landscape ecology, biological control, generalist predators, spiders, arthropods, conservation biology, sampling methods)
  • U. Scharler, ZAF (ecological networks, food webs, estuaries, marine, mangroves, stoichiometry, temperate, subtropical)
  • D. Schmera, HUN (aquatic communities, functional diversity, ecological theory)
  • M. Scotti, GER (community-based ecological theory and modelling issues, trophic interactions, competition, species response to the environment, ecological networks)
  • B. Tóthmérész, HUN (biodiversity, soil zoology, spatial models, macroecology, ecological modeling)
  • S. Wollrab, GER (aquatic ecology, food web dynamics, plankton ecology, predator-prey interactions)


Advisory Board

  • S. Bartha, HUN
  • S.L. Collins, USA
  • T. Czárán, HUN
  • E. Feoli, ITA
  • N. Kenkel, CAN
  • J. Lepš, CZE
  • S. Mazzoleni, ITA
  • Cs. Moskát, HUN
  • B. Oborny, HUN
  • M.W. Palmer, USA
  • G.P. Patil, USA
  • V. de Patta Pillar, BRA
  • C. Ricotta, ITA
  • Á. Szentesi, HUN



Indexing and Abstracting Services:

  • Biological Abstracts
  • BIOSIS Previews
  • CAB Abstracts
  • Biology & Environmental Sciences
  • Elsevier/Geo Abstracts
  • Science Citation Index Expanded
  • Zoological Abstracts



Community Ecology
Language English
Size A4
Year of
per Year
per Year
Founder Akadémiai Kiadó
H-1117 Budapest, Hungary 1516 Budapest, PO Box 245
Publisher Akadémiai Kiadó
Springer Nature Switzerland AG
H-1117 Budapest, Hungary 1516 Budapest, PO Box 245.
CH-6330 Cham, Switzerland Gewerbestrasse 11.
Chief Executive Officer, Akadémiai Kiadó
ISSN 1585-8553 (Print)
ISSN 1588-2756 (Online)