Asymmetric responses of paspalum species to a soil moisture gradient

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Anecdotal evidence suggests that dallisgrass (Paspalum dilatatum Poir.) and bahiagrass (Paspalum notatum Flueggé), two of the most troublesome weed species in managed turfgrass, are both drought and flood tolerant. Water table depth gradient tanks were employed to identify habitat specialization and competitive differences between dallisgrass and bahiagrass. Shoot and rhizome final biomass and survival were used as metrics for plants grown in monoculture or competition with hybrid bermudagrass (Cynodon transvaalensis Burtt Davy x C. dactylon (L.) Pers. ‘Tifway 419’) in sand or sandy loam soil. Shoot and rhizome growth of dallisgrass was greatest at the levels of highest soil moisture within each gradient tank regardless of soil type or competition. Percent survival of dallisgrass decreased to a low of 50% as depth to water table increased when grown as a monoculture and 12.5% when grown in competition with hybrid bermudagrass. Percent survival of bahiagrass was 100% regardless of water table depth, soil type, or competition. Shoot and rhizome growth of bahiagrass was greatest as depth to water table increased when grown in sandy loam soil. The opposite trend was observed when grown in sandy soil. Results suggest that dallisgrass may be more competitive with hybrid bermudagrass when volumetric soil moisture is high, while bahiagrass may be more competitive when volumetric soil moisture is low.

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