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Responses of macrophytes to dewatering: effects of phylogeny and phenotypic plasticity on species performance

Mélissa de Wilde 1 Nadia Sebei 1 Sara Puijalon 1 Gudrun Bornette 1 
1 EVZH - Équipe 2 - Écologie Végétale et Zones Humides
LEHNA - Laboratoire d'Ecologie des Hydrosystèmes Naturels et Anthropisés
Abstract : Temporary dewatering constitutes a drastic change in conditions for aquatic vegetation. Species’ sustained performance under these conditions relies partly on their ability to produce a terrestrial phenotype. Such adaptations may include the development of self-supporting aboveground organs with higher dry matter content enabling plants to withstand gravity and smaller leaves with thicker cuticle to reduce evapotranspiration, leading to lower specific leaf area, higher leaf-construction costs and consequently higher leaf life span. The ability of aquatic plant species to produce a terrestrial-adapted phe- notype may differ according to growth form and evolutionary history. The objectives of this study were to (1) measure the effects of dewatering on aquatic plant performance, (2) determine how growth form and phylogenetic position affect performance, and (3) relate plant performance to plasticity. To meet these objectives, we experimentally studied aquatic plant responses to dewatering by measuring survival, growth, and a set of traits describing the morphology and leaf-resource economy of eight aquatic plant species with contrasting phylogeny and growth forms. The ability of aquatic plants to withstand dewatering differed according to phylogeny but not to growth form. The eudicots presented high survival and similar growth rates under terrestrial compared to aquatic conditions, while monocots generally did not survive dewatering. These species produced phenotypic adjustments, such as denser aboveground organs and leaf plasticity, which can explain the maintenance of similar growth rates under terrestrial conditions. The relatively strong plasticity and performance of eudicots in terrestrial habitats suggests that their optimal niche is the interface between aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, November 25, 2014 - 3:41:59 PM
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Mélissa de Wilde, Nadia Sebei, Sara Puijalon, Gudrun Bornette. Responses of macrophytes to dewatering: effects of phylogeny and phenotypic plasticity on species performance. Evolutionary Ecology, 2014, 28, pp.1155-1167. ⟨10.1007/s10682-014-9725-8⟩. ⟨hal-01087217⟩



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