Regeneration capacity of small clonal fragments of the invasive Mikania micrantha H.B.K.: effects of burial depth and stolon internode length.
The perennial stoloniferous herbaceous vine Mikania micrantha H.B.K. is among the most noxious exotic invaders in China and the world. Disturbance can fragment stolons of M. micrantha and disperse these fragments over long distances or bury them in soils at different depths. To test their regeneration capacity, single-node stolon fragments with stolon internode lengths of 0, 3, 6 and 12 cm were buried in soil at 0, 2, 5 and 8 cm depths, respectively. The fragments were growing for nine weeks, and their emergence status, growth and morphological traits were measured. The results indicated that increasing burial depth significantly decreased survival rate and increased the emergence time of the M. micrantha plants. At an 8-cm burial depth, very few fragments (2.19%) emerged and survived. Burial did not affect the total biomass and root to shoot ratio of the surviving M. micrantha plants that emerged from the 0- and 2-cm burial depths. Increasing internode length significantly increased survival rate and growth measures, but there was no interaction effect with burial depth for any traits measured. These results suggest that M. micrantha can regenerate from buried stolon fragments, and thus, disturbance may contribute to the spread of this exotic invader. Any human activities producing stolon fragments or facilitating dispersal should be avoided.