Flooding and fragment size interact to determine survival and regrowth after fragmentation in two stoloniferous Trifolium species

Typical habitat of Trifolium repens, a riverine grassland with high disturbance frequency.
Typical habitat of Trifolium repens, a riverine grassland with high disturbance frequency.

Clonal plants are common in frequently flooded habitats because of their resilience to disturbance. In a new study published in AoB PLANTS, Huber et al. investigated whether submergence prior to fragmentation of clones of two clover species reduced survival and regrowth of clonal fragments, and whether these fitness parameters differed between genotypes from highly disturbed river forelands and less disturbed coastal dune slacks. They found that soil flooding severely decreased survival and regrowth, and that plants from the more disturbance-prone habitat were less negatively affected by fragmentation. However, internode size was, surprisingly, often negatively correlated with survival after fragmentation, but positively correlated with regrowth. Apparently, contrasting selection pressures exist on internode size in stoloniferous species growing in disturbed habitats.