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Facilitation or competition? A meta-analysis of the factors determining plant interactions in coastal sand dunes

Grant number: 12/09794-7
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Post-Doctorate
Effective date (Start): January 01, 2013
Effective date (End): September 30, 2013
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Ecology
Principal Investigator:Paulo Inácio de Knegt López de Prado
Grantee:Camila de Toledo Castanho
Home Institution: Instituto de Biociências (IB). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil


Plant interactions can be negative (competition) or positive (facilitation). Although it is broadly accepted that both interactions can occur simultaneously between interacting plants, the conditions under which one type of interaction prevails are not well understood. Some studies have suggested the importance of interacting species traits and environmental stress to determine net interactions. However, the importance of these factors on net interactions has never been tested through a quantitative synthesis of the large body of evidence accumulated so far. The coastal sand dune vegetation (also called restinga in Brazil) has potentially limiting conditions for plant performance, such as low availability of water and nutrients in the soil, presence of salt in soil and sea spray, and intense wind exposure. Several studies have found evidences that, in coastal dunes, plants can ameliorate the conditions and resources availability in their surroundings, facilitating the performance of their neighboring plants. On the other hand, a number of other studies have found competition as the predominant interaction between plants, suggesting that the net interaction of plants in coastal dunes is context-dependent. The contradiction among the results, as well as the volume of accumulated studies makes the coastal dunes a extremely suitable system to test, through a quantitative synthesis, if factors related to the traits of interacting species and environmental condition explain the variation in the net interaction found across different studies. Therefore, our main objective in this proposal is to investigate, using meta-analysis techniques, which is the predominant interaction between coastal dune plants on a worldwide scale; and if the following factors affect the net interactions: i) life stage of the target plant; ii) life form of the target plant; iii) life form of the neighboring plant and iv) environmental stress. The results of this proposal will allow us to better understand how the balance between competition and facilitation vary in time and space, and also presents practical implications by providing information to support the selection of species and conditions best suited to promote facilitation between plants in restoration of coastal sand dunes.

Scientific publications (4)
(References retrieved automatically from Web of Science and SciELO through information on FAPESP grants and their corresponding numbers as mentioned in the publications by the authors)
ASTEGIANO, JULIA; SEBASTIAN-GONZALEZ, ESTHER; CASTANHO, CAMILA DE TOLEDO. Unravelling the gender productivity gap in science: a meta-analytical review. ROYAL SOCIETY OPEN SCIENCE, v. 6, n. 6 JUN 2019. Web of Science Citations: 0.
CASTANHO, CAMILA T.; OLIVEIRA, ALEXANDRE A.; PRADO, PAULO INACIO K. L. Does extreme environmental severity promote plant facilitation? An experimental field test in a subtropical coastal dune. Oecologia, v. 178, n. 3, p. 855-866, JUL 2015. Web of Science Citations: 6.
CASTANHO, CAMILA DE TOLEDO; LORTIE, CHRISTOPHER J.; ZAITCHIK, BENJAMIN; PRADO, PAULO INACIO. A meta-analysis of plant facilitation in coastal dune systems: responses, regions, and research gaps. PeerJ, v. 3, FEB 12 2015. Web of Science Citations: 6.
CASTANHO, CAMILA DE TOLEDO; PRADO, PAULO INACIO. Benefit of Shading by Nurse Plant Does Not Change along a Stress Gradient in a Coastal Dune. PLoS One, v. 9, n. 8 AUG 15 2014. Web of Science Citations: 6.

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