Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 23, Issue 7, pp 1757–1770 | Cite as

Climate and small scale factors determine functional diversity shifts of biological soil crusts in Iberian drylands

  • Laura Concostrina-Zubiri
  • David S. Pescador
  • Isabel Martínez
  • Adrián Escudero
Original Paper

Abstract

Understanding functional diversity is critical to manage and preserve biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in the face of global change. However, the efforts to characterize this functional component have been mostly directed to vascular vegetation. We sampled lichen-dominated biological soil crusts (BSCs) in semiarid grasslands along an environmental gradient in the Iberian Peninsula. We characterized five effect functional traits for 31 lichens species, and evaluated the influence of large scale (i.e. precipitation) and small scale factors (i.e. substrate type, shrub presence, Stipa tenacissima presence) on dominant trait values; i.e. community weighted means, and functional divergence; i.e. Rao quadratic entropy in 580 sampling quadrats. Across the gradient, we found multiple trait shifts and a general increase of functional divergence with increasing precipitation. We also observed that substrate type and small scale biotic factors determined shifts in all traits studied, while these factors affected less to functional divergence. Comparing functional diversity with taxonomic diversity, we found contrasting responses to both large and small scale factors. These findings suggest that BSC community trait composition is influenced by multi-scale abiotic and biotic factors with environmental filtering dominating at large spatial scales and limiting similarity at specific small scales. Also, our results emphasize the potential differences between taxonomic and functional diversity in response to environmental factors. We concluded that functional diversity of BSCs not only provides novel and critical knowledge of BSC community structure, but also it should be considered as a critical tool in biodiversity conservation strategies, ecosystem services assessment and ecological modelling.

Keywords

Biological soil crusts Calcareous soils Functional diversity Gypsum soil Lichen Precipitation Semiarid grassland Shrub Stipa tenacissima Traits 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laura Concostrina-Zubiri
    • 1
  • David S. Pescador
    • 1
  • Isabel Martínez
    • 1
  • Adrián Escudero
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biology and GeologyRey Juan Carlos UniversityMóstolesSpain

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