Biodiv Sci ›› 2019, Vol. 27 ›› Issue (12): 1279-1290.DOI: 10.17520/biods.2019267

• Original Papers: Plant Diversity • Previous Articles     Next Articles

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:2019-12-20 Published:2019-12-24
  • Contact: 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