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Lab 06 Plant Competition

Lab 06 Plant Competition - PLANT COMPETITION EXPERIMENT Lab...

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PLANT COMPETITION EXPERIMENT Lab 6 6-1 Reminder! Wear appropriate clothing, you’ll get dirty Memory Stick or Floppy Disk Calculator Today’s lab is a continuation of Lab 1. To refresh your memory, we set up an experiment to reveal the competitive effects of a weed (Bermuda grass) on the growth of a common landscaping plant (e.g. marigolds) with or without the addition of an important nutrient (nitrogen). Our goal is to determine whether nitrogen addition alters competitive interactions between Bermuda grass and the flower. We will also use our results to infer whether removal of Bermuda grass is necessary to cultivate healthy looking flowers. I. SPECIES INTERACTIONS Organisms may interact with each other in a number of ways. These interactions are generally grouped into three categories: consumption, competition, and positive interactions. In consumption, one organism is harmed by another when it is fed upon. Included in consumption are herbivory, predation, and parasitism. Competition arises when two organisms require the same resource, and that resource is in short supply. In contrast, a positive interaction occurs when at least one species benefits from the relationship, but neither species is harmed by the interaction. An example of a type of positive interaction is mutualism, where both partners benefit. Of the three categories of interaction, competition has probably been the most studied over the past century, but it is not necessarily more important than the other interactions. Competition There are two major types of competitive interactions, intraspecific and interspecific. Intraspecific competition occurs between individuals of the same species, while interspecific competition occurs between two different species. Because members of the same species have identical resource needs, intraspecific competition is in theory more severe than interspecific competition. Yet there are also many examples of different species with very similar resource needs. The competitive exclusion principle states two species cannot coexist if they share the same limiting resource. Thus, according to this principle, similar species usually cannot coexist because the superior competitor drives the other species to local extinction (if the two species had exactly the same competitive ability then they could theoretically coexist for a long time, but this situation is unlikely). Species need not be extremely similar to compete with each other. As long as two species need the same limiting resource and utilize it in the same way, they can be competitors. For example, every plant, from a grass to a cactus to an oak tree, needs phosphorus from the soil to grow. If these species are growing together, then they could potentially compete, even though they have very different morphologies and are not closely related species. Competition, whether intraspecific or inter-
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Lab 06 Plant Competition - PLANT COMPETITION EXPERIMENT Lab...

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