Functional traits can improve our understanding of niche- and dispersal-based processes
Ecologists often determine the relative importance of niche- and dispersal-based processes via variation partitioning based on species composition. Functional traits and their proxies of phylogeny are expected to increase the detection of niche-based processes and reduce the unexplained variation relative to species identity. We collected eight adult tree traits and phylogenetic data of 41 species and employed a phylogenetic fuzzy weighting method to address this issue in a 9-ha temperate forest dynamics plot. We used redundancy analysis to relate species, phylogenetic and functional compositions to environmental (soil resources and topography) and spatial variables. We also performed multi-scaled analyses on spatial variables by adding environment as the covariates to determine if functional traits increase the detection of niche-based processes at broad scales. The functional traits and intraspecific variation of the wood density among ontogenetic stages could dramatically increase the detection of niche-based processes and reduce the unexplained variation relative to species identity. Phylogenetic and functional compositions were mainly driven by total soil P and elevation, while species composition was weakly affected by multiple environmental variables. After controlling for the environment, a larger amount of the compositional variations in seed mass and maximum height were explained by finer-scaled spatial variables, indicating that dispersal processes may be important at fine spatial scales. Our results suggested that considering functional traits and their intraspecific variations could improve our understanding of ecological processes and increase our ability to predict the responses of plants to environmental change.
KeywordsIntraspecific trait variation Maximum height Phylogenetic fuzzy weighting Seed mass Variation partitioning
This study was financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (no. 31730015, National Natural Science Foundation of China), the Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (XDPB0203, Chinese Academy of Sciences) and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (2572017EA02, Northeast Forestry University). We thank the editor and two anonymous reviewers for the constructive comments that improved the quality of the manuscript. We also thank Dr. Leandro D.S. Duarte for the help and suggestions for the calculations of the phylogenetic fuzzy weighting approach, and Dr. Jinlong Zhang and Dr. Robert Muscarella for providing suggestions on the construction of the phylogenetic tree.
Author contribution statement
FJ and GZJ conceived the idea. FJ, YHX and HYC collected the soil, topological and traits data. FJ analyzed the data. FJ and GZJ wrote the manuscript; other authors provided editorial advice.
- Cornelissen JHC, Lavorel S, Garnier E, Diaz S, Buchmann N, Gurvich DE, Reich PB, ter Steege H, Morgan HD, van der Heijden MGA, Pausas JG, Poorter H (2003) A handbook of protocols for standardised and easy measurement of plant functional traits worldwide. Aust J Bot 51:335–380. https://doi.org/10.1071/BT02124 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- De Cáceres M, Legendre P, Valencia R, Cao M, Chang L-W, Chuyong G, Condit R, Hao Z, Hsieh C-F, Hubbell S, Kenfack D, Ma K, Mi X, Supardi Noor MN, Kassim AR, Ren H, Su S-H, Sun IF, Thomas D, Ye W, He F (2012) The variation of tree beta diversity across a global network of forest plots. Glob Ecol Biogeogr 21:1191–1202. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1466-8238.2012.00770.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Dray S, Pélissier R, Couteron P, Fortin MJ, Legendre P, Peres-Neto PR, Bellier E, Bivand R, Blanchet FG, De Cáceres M, Dufour AB, Heegaard E, Jombart T, Munoz F, Oksanen J, Thioulouse J, Wagner HH (2012) Community ecology in the age of multivariate multiscale spatial analysis. Ecol Monogr 82:257–275. https://doi.org/10.1890/11-1183.1 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Legendre P, Legendre LF (2012) Numerical ecology. Elsevier, OxfordGoogle Scholar
- Peppe DJ, Royer DL, Cariglino B, Oliver SY, Newman S, Leight E, Enikolopov G, Fernandez-Burgos M, Herrera F, Adams JM, Correa E, Currano ED, Erickson JM, Hinojosa LF, Hoganson JW, Iglesias A, Jaramillo CA, Johnson KR, Jordan GJ, Kraft NJ, Lovelock EC, Lusk CH, Niinemets U, Penuelas J, Rapson G, Wing SL, Wright IJ (2011) Sensitivity of leaf size and shape to climate: global patterns and paleoclimatic applications. New Phytol 190:724–739. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-8137.2010.03615.x CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Poorter L, Wright SJ, Paz H, Ackerly DD, Condit R, Ibarra-Manríquez G, Harms KE, Licona JC, Martínez-Ramos M, Mazer SJ, Muller-Landau HC, Peña-Claros M, Webb CO, Wright IJ (2008) Are functional traits good predictors of demographic rates? Evidence from five Neotropical forests. Ecology 89:1908–1920. https://doi.org/10.1890/07-0207.1 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Pérez-Harguindeguy N, Díaz S, Garnier E, Lavorel S, Poorter H, Jaureguiberry P, Bret-Harte MS, Cornwell WK, Craine JM, Gurvich DE, Urcelay C, Veneklaas EJ, Reich PB, Poorter L, Wright IJ, Ray P, Enrico L, Pausas JG, de Vos AC, Buchmann N, Funes G, Quétier F, Hodgson JG, Thompson K, Morgan HD, ter Steege H, Sack L, Blonder B, Poschlod P, Vaieretti MV, Conti G, Staver AC, Aquino S, Cornelissen JHC (2013) New handbook for standardised measurement of plant functional traits worldwide. Aust J Bot 61:167–234. https://doi.org/10.1071/bt12225 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- R Core Team (2016) R: a language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria. https://www.R-project.org/
- State Forestry Administration (2001) Seeds of woody plants in China. China Forestry Publishing House, BeijingGoogle Scholar
- Swenson NG, Erickson DL, Mi X, Bourg NA, Forero-Montaña J, Ge X, Howe R, Lake JK, Liu X, Ma K, Pei N, Thompson J, Uriarte M, Wolf A, Wright SJ, Ye W, Zhang J, Zimmerman JK, Kress WJ (2012a) Phylogenetic and functional alpha and beta diversity in temperate and tropical tree communities. Ecology 93:S112–S125. https://doi.org/10.1890/11-0402.1 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Swenson NG, Stegen JC, Davies SJ, Erickson DL, Forero-Montaña J, Hurlbert AH, Kress WJ, Thompson J, Uriarte M, Wright SJ (2012b) Temporal turnover in the composition of tropical tree communities: functional determinism and phylogenetic stochasticity. Ecology 93:490–499. https://doi.org/10.1890/11-1180.1 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Tuomisto H, Ruokolainen K (2006) Analyzing or explaining beta diversity? Understanding the targets of different methods of analysis. Ecology 87:2697–2708. 10.1890/0012-9658(2006)87[2697:aoebdu]2.0.co;2Google Scholar
- Wu ZY, Raven PH (1994–2009) Flora of China. Science Press & Missouri Botanical Garden Press, Beijing & St LouisGoogle Scholar
- Yang J, Zhang G, Ci X, Swenson NG, Cao M, Sha L, Li J, Baskin CC, Slik JWF, Lin L, Poorter L (2014) Functional and phylogenetic assembly in a Chinese tropical tree community across size classes, spatial scales and habitats. Funct Ecol 28:520–529. https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2435.12176 CrossRefGoogle Scholar