|Title||Higher-order bud production increases tillering capacity in the perennial caespitose grass Scribner's Panicum (Dichanthelium oligosanthes)|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||2012|
|Authors||Ott, JP, Hartnett, DC|
|Keywords||Bud bank, bunchgrass, Dichanthelium oligosanthes, tillering|
The persistence and dynamics of perennial grass populations strongly depend on tiller recruitment from the bud bank. Because of the structural organization of grasses as populations of phytomers, bud production and tillering are constrained by morphology. An infrequent trait observed in only a few caespitose grasses is the branching of buds to produce higher-order buds prior to tiller development. We studied bud bank dynamics in Dichanthelium oligosanthes (Schult.) Gould a C3 perennial caespitose grass widely distributed in the eastern Great Plains. A hierarchy of bud development occurred in D. oligosanthes, with primary buds branching to produce secondary, tertiary, and quaternary buds. This higher-order bud production increased the overwintering propagule supply for spring recruitment by 4.5 times, and more than half of successful tiller recruits originated as higher-order buds. The temporal patterns of higher-order bud production and development suggest that growing season length may be an important factor determining the extent of higher-order bud production and subsequent year tiller natality in D. oligosanthes. Higher-order bud production likely has important consequences for the population dynamics of grasses. It may increase bud bank densities and tillering capacity, buffer population dynamics, and increase intraclonal tiller densities and resource consolidation in caespitose grasses.