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Functional determinants of forest recruitment over broad scales

AuthorsGodoy, Óscar ; Rueda, Marta; Hawkins, Bradford A.
KeywordsConspecific density dependence
Density independence
Frost phenology,
Functional traits
Leaf N,
North America
Positive interactions
Species abundances
Wood density.
Issue DateFeb-2015
PublisherJohn Wiley & Sons
CitationGlobal Ecology and Biogeography 24: 192-202 (2015)
AbstractAim The drivers of tree recruitment over large spatial scales remain unexplored. Here, we ask whether species potential for recruitment and the strength of densitydependent processes, both inferred from species relative abundances, show emerging patterns that can be explained upon the basis of information about climate and functional traits. Location Eastern forests of the USA. Methods We document the geographical distributions and magnitudes of seedling recruitment and the strength of density dependence and conspecific density dependence for the forests of the eastern USA spanning > 1.2 million km2 across 88,854 local communities comprising 164 tree species. We also compiled climatic variables and 16 traits representing several important ecological axes of tree functional strategies to assess which factors were most strongly associated with the emerging broad-scale spatial patterns. Results Strong geographical variation in the potential for seedling recruitment and a latitudinal change from negative to positive density dependence moving northward were associated with adaptation to seasonal freezing temperatures and seed size.Wood density and leaf nitrogen, in contrast,were related to the magnitude of the negative density dependence and conspecific density dependence, respectively, which were prevalent over most of the region. Main conclusions Our results provide strong evidence that tree recruitment and the strength of density-dependent processes have broad-scale patterns that can be explained by a few key species functional traits.
Description11 páginas.-- 3 figuras.-- 2 tablas.-- referencias.--
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/geb.12241
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