Aquatic Sciences

, 80:25 | Cite as

Limited resilience in hotspots of functional richness: the Mediterranean riparian shrublands

  • Ivana Lozanovska
  • Maria Teresa Ferreira
  • Pedro Segurado
  • Francisca C. Aguiar
Research Article

Abstract

Functional diversity indices are increasingly being used to describe plant community assembly processes and ecosystem functioning. However, their relevance for predicting alterations in ecosystem functioning of riparian plant communities is still largely unknown. We investigated the functional patterns of riparian forests along environmental gradients, using biological and environmental data from 189 well-preserved riverine locations in mainland Portugal. We calculated functional diversity indices (e.g. Richness, Redundancy, Divergence) for four riparian forest types, namely the Alder woodlands, Ash woodlands, Tree-heath shrublands and Mediterranean shrublands, using their plant species composition and 25 plant functional traits. We used multiple linear regression to predict the effect of the environment in the functional structure of riparian forests and ultimately evaluate the resilience of the riparian forests to environmental fluctuations. We found that Mediterranean shrublands have a significantly higher Functional Richness and a lower Functional Redundancy in comparison to the other riparian forest types. Both regional and habitat variables were important for predicting the functional diversity of riparian forests, with varying patterns according to forest types. In particular, we found that the redundancy of Mediterranean shrublands is mostly affected by precipitation, suggesting their potential vulnerability to climate change in the study area. Our results suggest the usefulness of functional diversity measures for conservation and monitoring the ecological functioning of riparian forests.

Keywords

Functional diversity indices Functional richness Functional redundancy Riparian forests Resilience Portugal 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We acknowledge the Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia I.P. (Portugal), FCT for financial support to Centro de Estudos Florestais (Project UID/AGR/00239/2013), Ph.D. Grant (I Lozanovska; PD/BD/114442/2016) and Post-doc Grant, (FC Aguiar; SFRH/BPD/112417/2015). We are in debt to APA I.P. (formerly the Water Institute, INAG IP) that provided access to biological and environmental data. The authors are thankful to the two anonymous Reviewers for the valuable help in improvement of the manuscript.

Supplementary material

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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centro de Estudos Florestais, Instituto Superior de AgronomiaUniversidade de LisboaLisbonPortugal

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