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A Multidimensional Functional Trait Approach Reveals the Imprint of Environmental Stress in Mediterranean Woody Communities

AuthorsRiva, E. G. de la; Violle, Cyrille; Pérez-Ramos, Ignacio Manuel ; Marañón, Teodoro ; Navarro-Fernández, Carmen M. ; Olmo, M.; Villar Montero, Rafael
Dry shrubland
Functional diversity
Functional structure
Plant Traits
Issue DateMar-2018
CitationEcosystems 21:(2): 248–262 (2018)
AbstractWater availability is one of the most important factors determining species distribution, plant community structure and ecosystem functioning. We explore how the functional structure of Mediterranean woody plant communities varies along a regional gradient of aridity in the Andalusian region (south Spain). We question whether communities located in more arid sites show more similarity in their functional structure when compared with communities located in wetter sites or whether, instead, there is divergence in their functional spaces. We selected five aridity zones (three sampling sites per zone) and measured 13 traits of different functional dimensions (including leaf, stem and root traits) in 74 woody plant species. We quantified functional space differences using the n-dimensional niche space approach (hypervolume). We found a larger functional space for the wetter communities compared with the more arid communities, which showed greater overlap of the trait space occupation. Our results indicate that aridity acts as a key abiotic filter affecting various metrics of the community trait structure, in accordance with the plant economics spectrum. We have also documented consistent variation in the functional space, supporting lower functional diversity under more harsh climatic conditions. The trend of functional space variation along the aridity gradient was different when considering traits from only one plant organ. Thus, the filtering process driving the functional structure of the communities studied here largely depends on the trait axis considered; for example, the root dimension showed considerable variation in wet environments, whereas the leaf dimension exhibited a larger functional space in the drier habitats.
Description15 páginas.-- 6 figuras.-- 1 tabla.-- referencias.-- The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s10021-017-0147-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Publisher version (URL)http:/dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10021-017-0147-7
Appears in Collections:(IRNAS) Artículos
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