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Am J Bot. 2003 Mar;90(3):413-22. doi: 10.3732/ajb.90.3.413.

Seedling competition between native Populus deltoides (Salicaceae) and exotic Tamarix ramosissima (Tamaricaceae) across water regimes and substrate types.

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  • 1University of New Mexico, Biology Department, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87131 USA.

Abstract

Populus deltoides subsp. wislizinii (Salicaceae), a cottonwood native to the Middle Rio Grande of New Mexico, must potentially compete against exotic Tamarix ramosissima (Tamaricaceae) during establishment after flooding. We investigated competitive interactions between seedlings of Tamarix and Populus in two substrates representing field textures and declining (i.e., draw-down) or stagnant water tables. The experiment was performed using a full-additive series design and interpreted with response surface models for each species. As reflected in both aboveground mass and height, Populus suppressed aboveground growth of Tamarix across all treatments, whereas competitive effects of Tamarix against Populus could only be seen at low Populus densities. Clay substrates with draw-down stimulated the greatest growth and created the most intense competitive environment for both species. Tamarix was competitively suppressed in every substrate tested, with the weakest response in sand with no draw-down, where growth of Populus was poorest. These results suggest that stream flow management that promotes Populus establishment could also aid in controlling Tamarix invasion across a range of substrates.

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