Robberecht, R., B.E. Mahall, and P.S. Nobel. 1983. Experimental removal of intraspecific competitors - effects on water relations and productivity of a desert bunchgrass, Hilaria rigida. Oecologia 60:21-24.

Summary. Intraspecific competition in the C4 bunchgrass Hilaria rigida was examined on a Sonoran Desert site in southeastern California. Potential competition within monospecific stands was experimentally altered by removal of the aboveground portions of all plants within a 1.5 m radius of a monitored plant. Compared with unaltered plots, altered plots had less negative soil water potentials during periods of soil drying. Leaf blades on monitored plants of altered plots remained green longer and had greater stomatal conductances than those on monitored plants on unaltered plots. Production of new culms was twice as great on altered plots. Greater root biomass and root length were observed in altered plots, and root extension into soil areas formally occupied by roots of neighboring plants occurred within one year after treatment. The results indicate that removal of the aboveground biomass of neighboring plants reduces the competition for limited available soil water in this desert environment.

This research was supported by United States Department of Energy contract DE-AM03-76-SF00012.