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Journal of Botany
Volume 2014, Article ID 573415, 7 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2014/573415
Research Article

Morphological Responses Explain Tolerance of the Bamboo Yushania microphylla to Grazing

1Renewable Natural Resources Research and Development Center, Ministry of Agriculture, Bumthang, Bhutan
2Department of Forest and Soil Sciences, Institute of Forest Ecology, BOKU University, Vienna, Austria

Received 5 June 2014; Accepted 9 August 2014; Published 19 August 2014

Academic Editor: William K. Smith

Copyright © 2014 Kesang Wangchuk et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Mechanisms of tolerance of the bamboo Y. microphylla to ungulate herbivory were investigated by measuring above- and belowground morphogenetic traits and biomass allocation patterns of the bamboo Y. microphylla under grazed and ungrazed conditions in a Himalayan mixed conifer forest. Data were collected from 5 populations consisting of 10 ramets each in adjacent grazed and ungrazed plots. Compared with ungrazed ramets, the aboveground morphological modifications of grazed ramets were higher culm density, shorter and thinner culms, shorter internode, and shorter top leaf. The belowground morphological modifications for the grazed ramets were thinner rhizomes, lower rhizome biomass and dry matter, more nodes, and shorter internodes. Despite the lower biomass and dry matter, the root-to-shoot ratio was higher for grazed ramets. Results suggest that Y. microphylla subjected to herbivory shows aboveground overcompensation in terms of densification at the cost of belowground biomass, but at the same time maintains a higher proportion of belowground reserves, as compared to ungrazed conditions. These responses provide adequate evidence to conclude that Y. microphylla tolerates ungulate herbivory through above- and belowground morphological modifications.