Biodiv Sci ›› 2016, Vol. 24 ›› Issue (3): 262-270.  DOI: 10.17520/biods.2015200

• Original Papers: Plant Diversity • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Interspecific and intraspecific variation in functional traits of subtropical evergreen and deciduous broad-leaved mixed forests

Qingqing Tang1, Yongtao Huang1, Yi Ding1,2,*(), Runguo Zang1,2   

  1. 1 Key Laboratory of Forest Ecology and Environment of State Forestry Administration, Institute of Forest Ecology, Environment and Protection, Chinese Academy of Forestry, Beijing 100091
    2 Co-Innovation Center for Sustainable Forestry in Sounthern China, Nanjing Forestry University, Nanjing 210037
  • Received:2015-07-08 Accepted:2016-01-15 Online:2016-03-20 Published:2016-04-05
  • Contact: Ding Yi


Interspecific variation in plant functional traits is the basis of species coexistence in natural ecosystems. However, intraspecific variation is also extremely important for community assemblage and distribution. Here, we sampled 28 dominant tree species with two different leaf forms (14 evergreen species and 14 deciduous species, respectively, obtained by species abundance ranking) in a subtropical evergreen and deciduous broad-leaved mixed forest in Hubei Xingdoushan National Nature Reserve. Differences in interspecific and intraspecific variations of four functional traits were explored, including specific leaf area (SLA), leaf dry matter content (LDMC), leaf area (LA), and stem specific density (SSD). Results demonstrated that: (1) There were significant differences in the four functional traits between evergreen and deciduous trees. The SLA and LA of evergreen species were significantly lower than those of deciduous species, but LDMC and SSD showed the opposite pattern; (2) Leaf habit was the main source (57.49%) for variation of SLA. Interspecific variability (66.80%) played an important role in LA than intraspecific variability (27.52%). LDMC variation was contributed relatively evenly by interspecific (38.12%) and intraspecific (33.88%) variability. On the contrary, the variation in SSD was explained more by intraspecific (51.50%) than interspecific (32.52%) variability; (3) Correlations of different functional traits on intraspecific levels of both evergreen and deciduous trees were higher than those found for interspecific levels. Our results showed that the variation of functional traits between communities could be influenced significantly by intraspecific variability. However, there were differences in the degree of variation of different functional traits.

Key words: functional trait, coefficient of variation, interspecific variability, intraspecific variability, evergreen and deciduous plants, leaf habit