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Caldwell, Martyn M

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The relative competitive abilities of Agropyron desertorum and Agropyron spicatum under rangeland conditions were compared using Artemisia tridentata ssp. wyomingensis transplants as indicator plants. We found A. desertorum to have substantially greater competitive ability than A. spicatum as manifested by the responses of Artemisia shrubs that were transplanted into nearly monospecific stands of these grass species. The Artemisia indicator plants had lower survival, growth, reproduction, and late-season water potential in the neighborhoods dominated by A. desertorum than in those dominated by A. spicatum. In similar, essentially monospecific grass stands, neutron probe soil moisture measurements showed that stands...
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The timing and extent of root growth and development were studied under field conditions in root observation chambers. These chambers were located near small groups of established perennial shrubs. Each of the shrub species, Atriplex confertifolia, Ceratoides lanata, and Artemisia tridentata occur in nearly monospecific stands. The presence of the observation chambers was shown to cause minimal disruption of the soil environment since soil temperatures and water potentials immediately proximate to the observation window were the same as those in the undisturbed soil profile. The season of root growth activity was initiated a few days before active shoot growth in the spring and extended for several months after...
In the sagebrush/bunchgrass steppe of the North American Great Basin soil water potential has been shown to exhibit diel fluctuations with water potential increasing during the night as a result of water loss from roots in relatively dry soil layers. We hypothesized that environmental conditions promoting low transpiration rates (shading, cloudiness) would cause a net increase in soil water potential as a result of reduced soil water depletion during the day and continuing water efflux from roots during the night. We examined the response of soil water potential to artificial shading in sagebrush/bunchgrass plantings and used a simple model to predict how soil water potential should respond to reduced transpiration....
To test the ability of plants to integrate small-scale imbalances in soil nitrate and phosphate patches, plant growth and acquisition of nitrate and phosphate were measured for the perennial grass Agropyron desertorum (Fisch. ex Link) Schult. and the shrub Artemisia tridentata Nutt. ssp. vaseyana (Rydb.) Beetle in soil where the principal supply of nitrate and phosphate came from two enriched patches. The soil was calcareous loamy-skeletal Typic Haploxerolls. These patches were applied in two treatments: either nitrate and phosphate were applied in both patches (balanced treatment) or one patch contained only nitrate and the other only phosphate (unbalanced treatment). The same total quantity of nutrients was applied...
Root proliferation in nutrient-rich soil patches is an important mechanism facilitating nutrient capture by plants. Although the phenomenon of root proliferation is well documented, the specific timing of this proliferation has not been investigated. We studied the timing and degree of root proliferation for three perennial species common to the Great Basin region of North America: a shrub, Artemisia tridentata, a native tussock grass, Agropyron spicaturn, and an introduced tussock grass, Agropyron desertorum. One day after we applied nutrient solution to small soil patches, the mean relative growth rate of Agropyron desertorurn roots in these soil patches was two to four times greater than for roots of the same...
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