Field experiments on competition between three foliose lichens using the de Wit experimental design

Richard A. Armstrong

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Competition between three foliose, saxicolous lichens common on slate rock in South Gwynedd, Wales, U.K. was studied experimentally using the de Wit design. Fragments of the three species were cut from the edges of large thalli, glued to 5 x 5 cm plots marked out on pieces of slate which were then placed on boards in the field. For each combination of pairs of species, the two species were grown either in monoculture at a density of 24 fragments per plot or together in three mixtures in differing proportions, i.e. species A:B with 16:8, 12:12 and 8:16 fragments per plot; the density remaining constant throughout. Area of the species in the plots after 3 years was used as an estimate of growth. Physcia orbicularis and Parmelia glabratula ssp. fuliginosa grew similarly in monoculture. In mixtures of the two, growth of each species was linearly related to its proportion in a mixture, suggesting little competition had occurred during three years. By contrast, the growth of Parmelia conspersa in monoculture was significantly greater than that of P. orbicularis or P. glabratula. In addition, the growth of both species was substantially reduced in mixtures with P. conspersa; P. glabratula being eliminated in the mixture in which it was the minority species. These results suggest that P. conspersa should predominate in communities with either of the other two species and, in the absence of P. conspersa, communities dominated by P.orbicularis and P. glabratula should be more stable.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)369-374
Number of pages6
JournalEnvironmental and Experimental Botany
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1985


  • saxicolous lichens
  • Wit design
  • physicia orbicularis
  • parmelia glabratula spp. fuliginosa
  • competition
  • parmelia conspersa
  • parmelia orbicularis
  • parmelia glabratula


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