Biodiv Sci ›› 2023, Vol. 31 ›› Issue (3): 22443.  DOI: 10.17520/biods.2022443

• Original Papers: Plant Diversity • Previous Articles     Next Articles

The effects of environment and species diversity on shrub survival in subtropical forests

Yujie Xue1,2, Anpeng Cheng2, Shan Li2, Xiaojuan Liu2, Jingwen Li1,*()   

  1. 1 School of Ecology and Nature Conservation, Beijing Forestry University, Beijing 100083
    2 Zhejiang Qianjiangyuan Forest Biodiversity National Observation and Research Station, Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100093
  • Received:2022-08-03 Accepted:2022-09-20 Online:2023-03-20 Published:2022-11-11
  • Contact: Jingwen Li


Aims: Shrubs are a vital component of forest ecosystems, playing an important role in maintaining species diversity, promoting nutrient cycling, protecting seedling regeneration, and fostering multi-trophic interactions. Shrub survival is an integral factor in forest community composition and function. However, previous studies lack insights on factors influencing shrub survival. Here, we examed the influence of different factors on shrub survival in order to understand the mechanisms underlying shrub survival.

Methods: The study examined 105 plots with varying tree and shrub species diversity in the Biodiversity-Ecosystem Functioning Experiment China platform (BEF-China). By collecting shrub survival in 2012 and 2019, topographical variables, soil variables, tree and shrub species richness in plot level, associated with shrub functional traits in species level, we analyzed the effects of abiotic factors, biotic factors and functional traits on shrub survival using the generalized linear mixed model (GLMM).

Results: We found significant differences in the survival rates among 10 shrub species. Shrubs tended to have higher survival rates in valleys or gently sloping saddles, and in plots with high soil C/N ratio. Neither tree nor shrub diversity had a significant effect on shrub survival, but tree diversity could indirectly improve shrub survival by forming a denser canopy. Shrub functional traits generally significantly affected their survival. For example, shrub species with conservative traits like low specific leaf area, low leaf nitrogen content, small stomatal area, high leaf dry matter content, and high wood density survived better. Abiotic factors had the largest impact on shrub survival, followed by shrub functional traits and then biotic factors. However, the best model for shrub survival included all the factors studied.

Conclusion: The survival of shrubs is the joint result of many factors. Abiotic factors play an important role and differing functional traits also influence shrub survival. However, the impact of species diversity on shrub survival may need a longer window of observation.

Key words: BEF-China, functional trait, shrub survival, subtropical forest, tree species diversity