Effect of Competition on Stable Carbon Isotope Ratios of Two Tussock Grass Species
Previous studies have shown that plant carbon isotope composition varies when plants experience differences in water and nutrient availability. However, none have addressed the effect of root interactions, including competition for these soil resources, on carbon isotope ratios. We studied the effect of interspecific root interactions on the productivity and carbon isotope ratios of two Great Basin tussock grass species (Agropyron desertorum and Pseudoroegneria spicata). We compared grasses grown in mixture with sagebrush (Artemisia tridentara) to grasses in similar mixtures but where root interactions with sagebrush were limited by fiberglass partitions. During both years of the study, tussocks growing in competition with sagebrush produced tissue with more negative δ13C values than grasses experiencing limited root interaction with sagebrush. The magnitude of this difference (0.5 to 0.9%) is similar to that found in other studies when soil fertility and moisture availability were altered.
Williams, K.; Richards, J. H.; Caldwell, M. M. 1991. Effect of Competition on Stable Carbon Isotope Ratios of Two Tussock Grass Species. Oecologia 88(1): 148-151.