Phenotypic plasticity in Phragmites australis as a functional response to water depth
- Department of Biology
- Aquatic ecology
When grown in deep (70 or 75 cm), compared to shallow (20 or 5 cm) water, plants allocated proportionally less to below-ground weight, made proportionally fewer but taller stems, and had rhizomes that were situated more superficially in the substrate. Plants acclimatised to shallow water had lower RGR than plants acclimatised to deep water, when they were grown in deep water, and plants in constant water depth (40 cm) grew faster than plants in fluctuating water depth (15/65 cm). In an additional field study, the rhizomes were situated superficially in the sediment in deep, compared to shallow water.
We have shown that P. australis acclimatises to deep water with phenotypic plasticity through allocating more resources to stem weight, and also by producing fewer but taller stems, which will act to maintain a positive carbon balance and an effective gas exchange between aerial and below-ground parts. Furthermore, the decreased proportional allocation to below-ground parts probably results in decreased nutrient absorption, decreased anchorage in the sediment and decreased carbohydrate reserves. Thus, in deep water, plants have an increased risk of becoming uprooted and experience decreased growth and dispersal rates.
- ISSN: 0304-3770