An increasing number of studies have shown that genetic diversity within plant species can influence important ecological processes. Here, we report a two-year wetland mesocosm experiment in which genotypic richness of Phragmites australis was manipulated to examine its effects on primary productivity and nitrogen removal from water. We used six genotypes of P. australis, and compared primary productivity and nitrogen concentration in the outflow water of the mesocosms between monocultures and polycultures of all six genotypes. We also quantified the abundance of denitrifying bacteria, as denitrification is a primary mechanism of nitrogen removal in addition to the biotic uptake by P. australis. Plant productivity was significantly greater in genotypic polycultures compared to what was expected based on monocultures. This richness effect on productivity was driven by both complementary and competitive interactions among genotypes. In addition, nitrogen removal rates of mesocosms were generally greater in genotypic polycultures compared to those expected based on monocultures. This effect, particularly pronounced in autumn, may largely be attributable to the enhanced uptake of nitrogen by P. australis, as the abundance of nitrite reducers did not increase with plant genotypic diversity. Although our effect sizes were relatively small compared to previous experiments, our study emphasizes the effect of genotypic interactions in regulating multiple ecological processes.
- Ecosystem functioning
- Genotypic selection
- Nitrogen removal
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics