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Title: Variation in growth rates across plant families and environments
Author: Houghton, Jennie
ISNI:       0000 0004 5348 9073
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2014
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The seedling stage is an important part of a plant's life cycle. The seedling determines whether or not the plant will establish and reach maturity, will grow tall and deep enough to out-compete enough of the surrounding vegetation to become a strong and healthy plant and survive the many stresses that may easily damage a young seedling that has not yet developed the protection and reserves found in mature plants. One particular focus of seedling ecology is growth rates. This is currently a fast-moving topic, with the introduction of a new method of calculating growth rates. Therefore, this thesis investigates growth rates on an inter-specific scale, with particular interest in calculating growth, as: a log-linear formula based on biomass and time; the sum of its growth components and the non-linear size-corrected relative growth rate. Growth rates are investigated in relation to various mild and fatal stressors, such as nutrient and herbivory stress to see if the different methods of calculating growth can enhance our understanding of Ecology. This thesis found that seed mass is not a key factor explaining the differences in growth rates between growth forms (Chapter 2). It found that plant survival of stressful environments is based on a complex interaction of seed mass, growth rate and biomass (Chapter 3) and that biomass is very important in surviving a sub-optimal and then an extreme stressor (Chapter 4). The components of growth are potentially size-biased, creating a possible problem when attempting to compare the relative importance of each component across different environments (Chapter 5). Additionally, experimental standardisation (Chapter 2) and modelling single vs multiple traits (Chapter 3) are also questioned. Plant traits are important and useful determinants of plant growth. Understanding variance in plant growth can help us to understand functioning on a population and community level more effectively.
Supervisor: Rees, Mark ; Thompson, Ken Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available