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Biomass Partitioning Following Defoliation of Annual and Perennial Mediterranean Grasses

Mario Gutman, Agricultural Research Organization
Imanuel Noy-Meir, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Daniel C Pluda, Volcani Center
No'am Seligman, Volcani Center
Steven Rothman
Marcelo Sternberg, Tel Aviv University


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A two-year experiment was conducted in northeastern Israel to study the effects of various defoliation regimes on biomass partitioning between vegetative and reproductive structures in a perennial and an annual Mediterranean grass. Greater insight into the mechanisms regulating biomass partitioning after defoliation enables ecologists and rangeland managers to interpret and predict population and community dynamics in Mediterranean grasslands more efficiently. Two typical Mediterranean grasses, Triticum dicoccoides, an annual species, and Hordeum bulbosum, a perennial species, were grown in containers in the open. They were subjected to a series of defoliation treatments that comprised three clipping frequencies and three clipping heights in a full factorial combination. In addition, individuals of both species were sampled in the field, in paddocks that were grazed, and in a control exclosure that was closed to grazing during the growing season. The experiment was conducted over two growing seasons, one unusually dry and one unusually wet. The clipping treatments invariably caused a reduction in the amount of biomass partitioned to the reproductive organs, but had little effect on the vegetative components of the plants. Greater tillering following defoliation compensated, to a large degree, for the loss of photosynthetic biomass following defoliation. The effect of grazing on biomass partitioning was much lower than the effect of clipping. Under grazing, the investment in reproductive biomass was considerably higher than when the grasses were clipped. The results of this experiment help to elucidate the reasons for the persistence of these species and, especially, for the dominance of Hordeum bulbosum in many eastern Mediterranean grasslands.

Key words

annual vs. perennial grasses, biomass partitioning, defoliation treatments, grasslands, grazing response, Hordeum bulbosum, Israel, Mediterranean, reproductive effort, Triticum dicoccoides, vegetative vs. reproductive structures.

Copyright © 2001 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087