Direct and indirect effects of environmental factors, spatial constraints, and functional traits on shaping the plant diversity of montane forests.
ABSTRACT: Understanding the relative importance of the factors driving the patterns of biodiversity is a key research topic in community ecology and biogeography. However, the main drivers of plant species diversity in montane forests are still not clear. In addition, most existing studies make no distinction between direct and indirect effects of environmental factors and spatial constraints on plant biodiversity. Using data from 107 montane forest plots in Sichuan Giant Panda habitat, China, we quantified the direct and indirect effects of abiotic environmental factors, spatial constraints, and plant functional traits on plant community diversity. Our results showed significant correlations between abiotic environmental factors and trees (r = .10, p value = .001), shrubs (r = .19, p value = .001), or overall plant diversity (r = .18, p value = .001) in montane forests. Spatial constraints also showed significant correlations with trees and shrubs. However, no significant correlations were found between functional traits and plant community diversity. Moreover, the diversity (richness and abundance) of shrubs, trees, and plant communities was directly affected by precipitation, latitude, and altitude. Mean annual temperature (MAT) had no direct effect on the richness of tree and plant communities. Further, MAT and precipitation indirectly affected plant communities via the tree canopy. The results revealed a stronger direct effect on montane plant diversity than indirect effect, suggesting that single-species models may be adequate for forecasting the impacts of climate factors in these communities. The shifting of tree canopy coverage might be a potential indicator for trends of plant diversity under climate change.
Project description:Elevation is involved in determining plant diversity in montane ecosystems. This study examined whether the distribution of plants in the Yatsugatake Mountains, central Japan, substantiated hypotheses associated with an elevational diversity gradient. Species richness of trees, shrubs, herbs, ferns, and bryophytes was investigated in study plots established at 200-m elevational intervals from 1,800 to 2,800 m. The changes in plant diversity (alpha and beta diversities, plant functional types, and elevational ranges) with elevation were analyzed in relation to climatic factors and elevational diversity gradient hypotheses, that is, mass effect, mid-domain effect, and Rapoport's elevational rule. In addition, the elevational patterns of dominance of plant functional types were also analyzed. A comparison of alpha and beta diversities revealed that different plant groups responded variably to elevation; the alpha diversity of trees and ferns decreased, that of herbs increased, whereas the alpha diversity of shrubs and bryophytes showed a U-shaped relationship and a hump-shaped pattern. The beta diversity of shrubs, herbs, and bryophytes increased above the subalpine-alpine ecotone. In accordance with these changes, the dominance of evergreen shrubs and graminoids increased above this ecotone, whereas that of evergreen trees and liverworts decreased. None of the plant groups showed a wide elevational range at higher elevations. These elevational patterns of plant groups were explained by climatic factors, and not by elevational diversity gradient hypotheses. Of note, the changes in the dominance of plant groups with elevation can be attributed to plant-plant interactions via competition for light and the changes in physical habitat. These interactions could alter the elevational diversity gradient shaped by climatic factors.
Project description:Many studies reported biotic change along a continental warming gradient. However, the temporal and spatial change of tree diversity and their sensitivity to climate warming might differ from region to region. Understanding of the variation among studies with regard to the magnitude of such biotic changes is minimal, especially in montane ecosystems. Our aim is to better understand changes in spatial heterogeneity and temporal dynamics of mountain tree communities under climate warming over the past four decades. In 2017, we resurveyed and recorded all tree species from 107 long-term monitoring plots that were first studied between 1974 and 1976. These plots were located in montane forests in the Giant Panda National Park (GPNP), China. Our results showed that spatial differences were found in tree species diversity changes response to mean annual temperature change over the past four decades. Tree species richness increased significantly under climate warming in Minshan (MS) and Xiaoxiangling (XXL) with higher warming rate than Qionglai (QLS) and Liangshan (LS). The trees species diversity in MS and XXL were more sensitive to climatic warming. MS and XXL should receive priority protection in the next conservation plan of the GPNP. The GPNP should avoid taking a "one-size-fits-all" approach for diversity conservation due to spatial heterogeneity in plant community dynamics.
Project description:Species dissimilarity (beta diversity) primarily reflects the spatio-temporal changes in the species composition of a plant community. The correlations between ? diversity and environmental factors and spatial distance can be used to explain the magnitudes of environmental filtering and dispersal. However, little is known about the relative roles and importance of neutral and niche-related factors in the assemblage of plant communities with different life forms in deserts. We found that in desert ecosystems, the ? diversity of herbaceous plants was the highest, followed by that of shrubs and trees. The changes in the ? diversity of herbs and shrubs had stronger correlations with the environment, indicating that community aggregation was strongly affected by niche processes. The soil water content and salt content were the key environmental factors affecting species distributions of the herb and shrub layers, respectively. Spatial distance explained a larger amount of the variation in tree composition, indicating that dispersal limitation was the main factor affecting the construction of the tree layer community. The results suggest that different life forms may determine the association between organisms and the environment. These findings suggest that the spatial patterns of plant community species in the Ebinur Lake desert ecosystem are the result of the combined effects of environmental filtering and dispersal limitation.
Project description:Varying patterns of plant community diversity along geographical gradients are a significant topic in biodiversity research. Here, to explore the integrated effects of latitude and altitude on the plant community diversity in a mountainous ecosystem, we set Guancen Mountain in the northern section, Guandi Mountain in the middle section, and Wulu Mountain in the southern section of the Lvliang Mountains as study areas, and the plant community diversity (basal diameter and height of tree and species diversity indices of shrub and herb) was measured horizontally at different latitude gradients and vertically at different altitude gradients in late July 2015. The results showed that (1) the trees were taller and wider at the middle latitude and higher altitude with a stronger spatial heterogeneity in the structures along the latitudinal and altitudinal gradients. The evergreen tree growth preceded that of the deciduous trees in the higher latitude and lower altitude regions, whereas the deciduous tree growth preceded that of the evergreen trees in the middle latitude and higher altitude regions. (2) Shrubs and herbs tended to grow well in the lower latitude and middle-lower altitude regions. The shrubs had a larger species diversity at lower latitude and lower altitude, but the species diversity of the herbs was not sensitive to the influences of the latitudinal and altitudinal gradients. With the latitude and altitude increasing, perennial herbs tended to grow well at higher latitude and higher altitude, while annual herbs tended to thrive at the middle latitude and lower altitude. In conclusion, environmental deviations caused by latitudinal and altitudinal gradients had great in