Dynamics of three types of annual plants competing for water and light
We present and discuss a Monte Carlo model describing the dynamics of three types of annual plants which have different tolerances to shade and drought. External conditions (water and light) fluctuate around some values which are our control parameters and which decide how many resources the system receives. The plants compete with their nearest neighbours for the resources, however not in the same way. We show that for certain ranges of the control parameters a coexistence of the three species is observed. We discuss how the characteristics of the the plants — their number, germination, biomass or the number of nearest neighbours, depend on the two control parameters characterising external conditions. We show that elimination is done at the level of adult plants, not seedlings. We find also cooperative behaviour of plants in difficult conditions, as observed in field studies and we propose an explanation for this fact. Apart from plants tolerating shade but requiring more water and those tolerating drought but needing more light, which are common in nature, we introduce a third species with intermediary demands. We investigate under what conditions this new species could dominate and whether the total number of plants, regardless of their type, is larger with or without the intermediate plant. We show that in our model, like in nature, systems with two kinds of plants with opposite characteristics are, in general, as effective as a system with an additional third type of plants. We show that two contradictory hypotheses made by biologists, concerning the demands of plants in drought and shade, could be both true, however in different regimes.
Volume (Year): 392 (2013)
Issue (Month): 4 ()
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