Biodiversity Science ›› 2019, Vol. 27 ›› Issue (12): 1279-1290.doi: 10.17520/biods.2019267

• Original Papers:Plant Diversity • Previous Article     Next Article

Intraspecific variation of leaf functional traits along the vertical layer in a subtropical evergreen broad-leaved forest of Dinghushan

Ruyun Zhang1, 2, 3, Yanpeng Li1, 2, 3, Yunlong Ni1, 2, 3, Xujun Gui1, 2, 3, Juyu Lian1, 2, Wanhui Ye1, 2, *()   

  1. 1 Key Laboratory of Vegetation Restoration and Management of Degraded Ecosystems, South China Botanical Garden,Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou 510650
    2 Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Applied Botany, South China Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou 510650
    3 University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049
  • Received:2019-08-28 Accepted:2019-12-02 Online:2019-12-24
  • Ye Wanhui

Exploring how functional traits vary along environmental gradients has always been one of the core issues of trait-based community ecology. While functional traits vary both among species and within species, little is known about how intraspecific variation changes along environmental gradients. We explored how intraspecific trait variations of four leaf functional traits (specific leaf area, leaf dry matter content, leaf thickness, leaf area) varied along vertical layer within community using data for 2,820 individuals belonging to 16 species in a 1.44-ha plot in the south subtropical evergreen broad-leaved forest in Dinghushan. First, we quantified the relative importance of intra- and interspecific trait variation within the canopy crane plot using linear random effect model. Trees were classified into three categories: shrub, subcanopy, canopy using the Kmeans method and investigated the patterns of intraspecific trait variation in different vertical layer using regression models. Finally, we explored whether intraspecific trait variation in different vertical layers depended on species differences using linear mixed effect models and a one-way analysis of variance. Results suggest that general intraspecific trait variation was lower than interspecific variation in the local community. Moreover, the pattern of intraspecific trait variation differed significantly among different vertical layer, and intraspecific trait variation was positively correlated with the vertical range. Intraspecific variation of leaf functional traits strongly depended on species differences, so species differences were relatively more important than microenvironment in explaining trait variation. In addition, intraspecific variation of different leaf functional traits showed different trends along vertical layer. Our study found the important role of intraspecific trait variation in species coexistence.

Key words: intraspecific variation, vertical layer, microenvironments, leaf functional traits, species coexistence

Fig. 1

Sources of variation in leaf functional traits. Variance decomposition based on inter- and intraspecific levels."

Fig. 2

The patterns of intraspecific variation of leaf functional traits in different vertical layer. (A) The difference in the mean coefficient of variation of leaf functional traits at each vertical layer, the different letters indicate significantly different at 0.05 level. (B) The relationship between the mean coefficient of variation of leaf functional traits and vertical range."

Table 1

Comparisons of leaf functional traits-microenvironment models (AIC) and marginal R2 (R2m) and conditional R2 (R2c)."

叶功能性状 Leaf functional traits 固定效应 Fixed effect R2m R2c AIC
比叶面积 Specific leaf area 垂直层次 Vertical layer 0.82 0.82 -402.55
干物质含量 Leaf dry matter content 垂直层次 Vertical layer 0.77 0.77 2,314.78
叶厚度 Leaf thickness 垂直层次 Vertical layer 0.85 0.85 -1,433.96
叶面积 Leaf area 垂直层次 Vertical layer 0.88 0.88 1,547.18

Fig. 3

Proportion of the total variation explained by fixed effect in the models for each leaf functional traits"

Fig. 4

The relationship between intraspecific variation of specific leaf area in 16 species and vertical layer (Mean ± SD), information of species abundance in brackets. The different letters indicate that specific leaf area of the same species significantly varies along different vertical layers at 0.05 level."

Fig. 5

The relationship between intraspecific variation of leaf thickness in 16 species and vertical layer (Mean ± SD). The different letters indicate that leaf thickness of the same species significantly varies along different vertical layers at 0.05 level."

Fig. 6

The relationship between intraspecific variation of leaf dry matter content in 16 species and vertical layer (Mean ± SD). The different letters indicate that leaf dry matter content of the same species significantly varies along different vertical layers at 0.05 level."

Fig. 7

The relationship between intraspecific variation of leaf area in 16 species and vertical layer (Mean ± SD). The different letters indicate that leaf area of the same species significantly varies along different vertical layers at 0.05 level."

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