Biodiv Sci ›› 2013, Vol. 21 ›› Issue (5): 564-571.DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1003.2013.08068

• Orginal Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

The phylogenetic signal of functional traits and their effects on community structure in an evergreen broad-leaved forest

Ke Cao1,2, Mide Rao1, Jianping Yu3, Xiaojuan Liu2, Xiangcheng Mi2, Jianhua Chen1,*()   

  1. 1 College of Chemistry and Life Sciences, Zhejiang Normal University, Jinhua, Zhejiang 321004
    2 State Key Laboratory of Vegetation and Environmental Change, Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100093
    3 Gutianshan National Nature Reserve, Kaihua, Zhejiang 324300
  • Received:2013-03-15 Accepted:2013-05-26 Online:2013-09-20 Published:2013-10-08
  • Contact: Chen Jianhua

Abstract:

The phylogenetic conservatism of plant functional traits and its association with community structure are important topics in ecological research. Plant functional traits are simultaneously affected by their evolutionary background, local habitat conditions and large-scale climate. In this study we asked whether functional traits have a significant phylogenetic signal and significantly affect species abundance in a community. For this objective, we used data from a 24 ha Gutianshan forest plot, which included species abundance and six functional traits of 156 woody species: leaf nitrogen content, leaf phosphorus content, leaf area, wood density, specific leaf area and seed mass. We found that all functional traits showed significant phylogenetic signal, suggesting that all functional traits are significantly affected by their evolutionary history. We also found that species abundance was correlated with leaf nitrogen content, leaf phosphorus content, leaf area, woody density and specific leaf area except seed mass, suggesting that resource acquisition significantly affects species abundance distribution in a community, and that these functional traits impact community structure in different ways.

Key words: plant functional trait, phylogenetic signal, abundance, phylogenetic independent contrast, Gutianshan