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Clonal Growth Forms in Eastern Ladakh, Western Himalayas: Classification and Habitat Preferences

Clonal Growth Forms in Eastern Ladakh, Western Himalayas: Classification and Habitat Preferences,10.1007/s12224-010-9076-3,Folia Geobotanica,Jitka Kli

Clonal Growth Forms in Eastern Ladakh, Western Himalayas: Classification and Habitat Preferences   (Citations: 5)
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Earlier observations that plant clonality, i.e., production of potentially independent offspring by vegetative growth, increase in importance in cold climates such as in arctic and alpine regions, have been recently questioned. However, lack of data obtained using a comparable methodology throughout different regions limit such comparisons. Here we present a classification of clonal growth forms for vascular plants from East Ladakh (an arid mountain range in NW Himalaya, India), and assess the relationship of these forms with multiple environmental gradients. Based on field assessment of clonality in 540 species we distinguished 20 growth forms, which were then grouped into four broader space occupancy strategies. Occurrence in communities and relationship with environmental characteristics and altitude were analyzed using multivariate methods. The most abundant growth form was represented by non-clonal perennial species with a pleiocorm having short branches, prevailing in steppes, Caragana shrubs and screes. The most abundant clonal species were those with very short epigeogenous rhizomes, such as turf graminoids prevailing in wet Kobresia grasslands. Two principal environmental gradients, together with several abiotic variables, affected space occupancy strategies: moisture and altitude. Non-spreading integrators prevailed on shaded rocky slopes, non-spreading splitters in wet grasslands and spreading splitters at the wettest sites. Spreading integrators were the least frequent strategy predominantly occurring at the most elevated sites. Because relevance of clonality decreased with altitude and different communities host different sets of clonal growth strategies, comparison with other cold climate regions should take multiple environmental gradients into account.
Journal: Folia Geobotanica - FOLIA GEOBOT , vol. 46, no. 2, pp. 191-217, 2011
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