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Assessing the dominance of Phleum pratense cv. climax, a species commonly used for ski trail restoration

  • Isselin Nondedeu, F.
  • Bédécarrats, A.
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2009
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Questions: (1) Are some species used for ski trail restoration too dominant to allow native species to re-establish? (2) What plant traits can be used to predict which species are good competitors? We tested the hypothesis that limited native species establishment on ski trails is caused by (1) the dominance of Phleum pratense cv. climax (PPC)and (2) the asymmetry of competitive interactions.Location: Sub-alpine area in the northern French Alps.Methods: PPC was cultivated outdoors over 2 years with 15 alpine species in a systematic design with high- and lownutrient soil conditions. For each species relative survival, competitive performance and relationships with plant traits were measured. Results: PPC exerted strong dominance on most of its neighbouring species. Survival performance of Anthyllis vulneraria, Luzula sudetica and Lotus alpinus were dramatically reduced. Results of above-ground competition showed that species were trapped in asymmetric competition. Festuca rubra, Trifolium repens, Alchemilla xanthochlora, Trifolium pratense and Plantago alpina best counteracted PPC. Belowground competition was more symmetric, particularly at the high nutrient level. Plant traits such as biomass, canopy size and specific leaf area were positively correlated with competitive performance of the species. Conclusion: The study has implications for the management of restored ski trails since PPC may hinder the establishment of native sub-alpine species. Consequently, recommendations should focus on (1) maintaining a low proportion or decreasing the proportion of PPC seeds in the revegetation mix and (2) reducing soil fertilization. Plant traits and competition experiments can help to predict changes in restored grasslands.

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