, Volume 28, Issue 1, pp 9-19,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 21 Oct 2012

Determinant factors influencing the spatial distributions of subtropical lianas are correlated with components of functional trait spectra

Abstract

Lianas are important vegetation components that control structure and function, especially in tropical and subtropical forests. To explore the spatial assembly mechanisms of a subtropical liana community, we tested the following hypotheses: spatial distributions of subtropical lianas are determined by forest structures and topographic features, which are surrogates for host/light availability and edaphic/water conditions, respectively, and these effects are mediated through species functional traits. We examined the spatial distribution of lianas in two plots (areas 9 and 16 ha) representing landscapes in an intact forest and a secondary forest, and analyzed spatial distribution pattern at the species level using a simple, spatially explicit model. We also examined the correlations between determinant factors for species distribution and species functional traits, including climbing habits, leaf traits and wood density. The spatial distribution of lianas was controlled mainly by topographic gradient. Most species had preferences for concave topographies, i.e., valley habitats. Any covariates related to the host (or to light) had little influence on the distribution of most liana species. Distributional responses to topography were different among species, and associated significantly with leaf nitrogen content and climbing habit, but not with wood density. The correlation between variation in habitat preferences and leaf economic spectrum suggests that an environmental filter for physiological response to topography is the important mechanism shaping the spatial patterns of this subtropical liana community.