Intraspecific Variation of Samara Dispersal Traits in the Endangered Tropical Tree Hopea hainanensis (Dipterocarpaceae).
ABSTRACT: Propagule dispersal is a crucial life history stage, which affects population recruitment and regeneration as well as community structure and functions. The windborne process of samara dispersal is affected not only by samara traits and other plant traits, but also by environmental factors. Therefore, studying samara traits related to its dispersal and intraspecific variation in relation to other plant traits and environmental factors could help to understand population distribution and dynamics. Hopea hainanensis, a Dipterocarpaceae tree species dominant in lowland rainforests in Hainan (China) but endangered due to anthropogenic disturbances, is dispersed mainly by wind because of its sepal-winged samara. Here, we measured dispersal-related intraspecific samara traits of H. hainanensis, and analyzed their variation and correlation in relation to plant height, DBH (diameter at breast height), and elevation plant location. Great variations in the samara traits existed, and the variations were larger within than among individuals, which indicated a "bet-hedging" strategy of this species. Plant height, DBH, and elevation explained slight variation in the samara traits. Samara dispersal potential is mainly affected by the samara mass and morphological traits. Samara settling velocity was significantly positively correlated with fruit mass, seed mass, length and width, as well as samara wing loading, and negatively correlated with wing mass ratio, wing area, and wing aspect ratio. Substantial proportions of intraspecific variation in samara dispersal are explained by the samara mass and morphological traits. Natural regeneration with human-aided dispersal is necessary for recovering the H. hainanensis population. This finding contributes to the generalization of trait-based plant ecology, modeling of seed dispersal in tropical forests, and conservation and recovery of rare and endangered species such as H. hainanensis.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Invasive species are one of the key elements of human-mediated ecosystem degradation and ecosystem services impairment worldwide. Dispersal of propagules is the first stage of plant species spread and strongly influences the dynamics of biological invasion. Therefore, distance prediction for invasive species spread is critical for invasion management. <i><i>Heracleum sosnowskyi</i></i> is one of the most dangerous invasive species with wind-dispersed propagules (seeds) across Eastern Europe. This study developed a simple mechanistic model for <i>H. sosnowskyi</i> propagule dispersal and their distances with an accuracy comparable to that of empirical measurements.<h4>Methods</h4>We measured and compared the propagule traits (terminal velocity, mass, area, and wing loading) and release height for <i>H. sosnowskyi</i> populations from two geographically distant regions of European Russia. We tested two simple mechanistic models: a ballistic model and a wind gradient model using identical artificial propagules. The artificial propagules were made of colored paper with a mass, area, wing loading, and terminal velocity close to those of natural <i>H. sosnowskyi</i> mericarps.<h4>Results</h4>The wind gradient model produced the best results. The first calculations of maximum possible propagule transfer distance by wind using the model and data from weather stations showed that the role of wind as a vector of long-distance dispersal for invasive <i>Heracleum</i> species was strongly underestimated. The published dataset with <i>H. sosnowskyi</i> propagule traits and release heights allows for modeling of the propagules' dispersal distances by wind at any geographical point within their entire invasion range using data from the closest weather stations. The proposed simple model for the prediction of <i>H. sosnowskyi</i> propagule dispersal by wind may be included in planning processes for managing invasion of this species.
Project description:PREMISE:Intraspecific variation in diaspore characteristics could affect various aspects of plant performance at the population, individual plant, and seed levels. We quantified variation in dispersal traits in a wind-dispersed annual, Geropogon hybridus (Asteraceae), focusing on continuous morphological traits of dispersive diaspores and their relationships to dispersal ability and seedling emergence. METHODS:We measured the morphological traits, terminal velocity, and seedling emergence of 1140 seeds from 10 populations in two successive years. We assessed the variation in traits among three hierarchical levels of organization and between years, and quantified their effects on diaspore terminal velocity and seedling emergence. RESULTS:Diaspore morphological traits varied substantially at the population, plant, and diaspore levels. Variables of pappus geometry, especially pappus width and pappus opening angle, were consistent between years and were found to be the best predictors of diaspore terminal velocity and seedling emergence. There was a significant negative relationship between diaspore terminal velocity and seedling emergence. CONCLUSIONS:The intraspecific variation in diaspore traits is sufficiently large to substantially allow a dispersal-dormancy trade-off of individual diaspores. Our results support the hypothesis that traits of dispersive diaspores evolve in concert to select for increased dispersal potential, and provide an avenue to predict plant offspring performance through simply measured traits.
Project description:Functional traits and functional diversity measures are increasingly being used to examine land use effects on biodiversity and community assembly rules. Morphological traits are often used directly as functional traits. However, behavioral characteristics are more difficult to measure. Establishing methods to derive behavioral traits from morphological measurements is necessary to facilitate their inclusion in functional diversity analyses. We collected morphometric data from over 1,700 individuals of 12 species of dung beetle to establish whether morphological measurements can be used as predictors of behavioral traits. We also compared morphology among individuals collected from different land uses (primary forest, logged forest, and oil palm plantation) to identify whether intraspecific differences in morphology vary among land use types. We show that leg and eye measurements can be used to predict dung beetle nesting behavior and period of activity and we used this information to confirm the previously unresolved nesting behavior for Synapsis ritsemae. We found intraspecific differences in morphological traits across different land use types. Phenotypic plasticity was found for traits associated with dispersal (wing aspect ratio and wing loading) and reproductive capacity (abdomen size). The ability to predict behavioral functional traits from morphology is useful where the behavior of individuals cannot be directly observed, especially in tropical environments where the ecology of many species is poorly understood. In addition, we provide evidence that land use change can cause phenotypic plasticity in tropical dung beetle species. Our results reinforce recent calls for intraspecific variation in traits to receive more attention within community ecology.
Project description:Studying the distribution of samara species is of ecological and economic significance. This information helps us with understanding species dispersal mechanisms, evaluating the risk of invasive species, and the management of ecological forests. However, limited research has explored, on a large scale, the geographic distribution of samara species and their influential abiotic factors. Here, we use the distribution data of 835 vascular samara species and growth form data to explore their geographic patterns in China and the environmental determinants. We divided China into 984 grid cells and examined the relationship between the proportion of samara species and climate variables using both ordinary and spatial linear regressions for each grid cell. Total samara species richness is higher in southern China in low altitude regions and the proportion of woody samara species is significantly higher than that of herbaceous samara species. The proportion of woody samara species is higher in the northeast regions where precipitation is sufficient, winters are dry and mild, and temperature seasonality and land surface relief degree values are high. Annual precipitation and temperature seasonality are the most important climatic drivers for the distribution of woody samara species. In contrast, herbaceous samara species prefer to distribute to the areas where climate is warm and dry but have higher temperature seasonality. Temperature related variables (mean annual temperature, mean diurnal range, and temperature seasonality) are the most important drivers for the distribution of herbaceous samara species. Samara species can better adapt to climatic regions with large temperature fluctuations and dry winters. The present distribution patterns of samara species are formed by the combined adaptation of fruit traits and growth form to climate. This work contributes to predictions of the global distribution of samara species under future climate change scenarios and conservation and management for the samara species.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Traits of non-dominant mixed-forest tree species and their synergies for successful co-occurrence in monodominant Gilbertiodendron dewevrei forest have not yet been investigated. Here we compared the tree species diversity of the monodominant forest with its adjacent mixed forest and then determined which fitness proxies and life history traits of the mixed-forest tree species were most associated with successful co-existence in the monodominant forest.<h4>Methodology/principal findings</h4>We sampled all trees (diameter in breast height [dbh]?10 cm) within 6×1 ha topographically homogenous areas of intact central African forest in SE Cameroon, three independent patches of G. dewevrei-dominated forest and three adjacent areas (450-800 m apart). Monodominant G. dewevrei forest had lower sample-controlled species richness, species density and population density than its adjacent mixed forest in terms of stems with dbh?10 cm. Analysis of a suite of population-level characteristics, such as relative abundance and geographical distribution, and traits such as wood density, height, diameter at breast height, fruit/seed dispersal mechanism and light requirement-revealed after controlling for phylogeny, species that co-occur with G. dewevrei tend to have higher abundance in adjacent mixed forest, higher wood density and a lower light requirement.<h4>Conclusions/significance</h4>Our results suggest that certain traits (wood density and light requirement) and population-level characteristics (relative abundance) may increase the invasibility of a tree species into a tropical closed-canopy system. Such knowledge may assist in the pre-emptive identification of invasive tree species.
Project description:Elevational gradients offer special opportunities to investigate the relative role of intraspecific and interspecific trait variations in relation to stress gradients. We used an altitudinal gradient in the Mediterranean (Mt Velino, Central Italy) to study (1) how community-weighted means (CWM) and nonweighted means (CM) vary with elevation for plant height, specific leaf area, and seed mass; and (2) how variation patterns differ for inter- and intraspecific functional variability. We tested (1) if elevation influences community functional composition on the basis of the adaptive value of plant traits and (2) if the latter shows intraspecific variations according to the species' ability to cope with local conditions. We found that different traits showed different patterns, which can be linked to the function they express. Differences between communities were influenced more by differences between their traits (CM) than by the relative species coverage (CWM). Both highest and lowest elevations were the most selective due to their particularly severe climatic conditions. Intermediate elevations were the most favorable thanks to less constraining climatic conditions. Interspecific trait variability was the most relevant component, indicating a low plant ability to cope with environmental variations through phenotypic plasticity.
Project description:The distribution of wind-dispersed seeds around a parent tree depends on diaspore and tree traits, as well as wind conditions and surrounding vegetation. This study of a neotropical canopy tree, Platypodium elegans, explored the extent to which parental variation in diaspore and tree traits explained (1) rate of diaspore descent in still air, (2) distributions of diaspores dispersed from a 40-m tower in the forest, and (3) natural diaspore distributions around the parent tree. The geometric mean rate of descent in still air among 20 parents was highly correlated with geometric mean wing loading(1/2) (r = 0.84). However, diaspore traits and rate of descent predicted less variation in dispersal distance from the tower, although descent rate(-1) consistently correlated with dispersal distance. Measured seed shadows, particularly their distribution edges, differed significantly among six parents (DBH range 62-181 cm) and were best fit by six separate anisotropic dispersal kernels and surveyed fecundities. Measured rate of descent and tree traits, combined in a mechanistic seed dispersal model, did not significantly explain variation among parents in natural seed dispersal distances, perhaps due to the limited power to detect effects with only six trees. Seedling and sapling distributions were at a greater mean distance from the parents than seed distributions; saplings were heavily concentrated at far distances. Variation among parents in the distribution tails so critical for recruitment could not be explained by measured diaspore or tree traits with this sample size, and may be determined more by wind patterns and the timing of abscission in relation to wind conditions. Studies of wind dispersal need to devote greater field efforts at recording the "rare" dispersal events that contribute to far dispersal distances, following their consequences, and in understanding the mechanisms that generate them.
Project description:Changes in plant community traits along an environmental gradient are caused by interspecific and intraspecific trait variation. However, little is known about the role of interspecific and intraspecific trait variation in plant community responses to the restoration of a sandy grassland ecosystem. We measured five functional traits of 34 species along a restoration gradient of sandy grassland (mobile dune, semi-fixed dune, fixed dune, and grassland) in Horqin Sand Land, northern China. We examined how community-level traits varied with habitat changes and soil gradients using both abundance-weighted and non-weighted averages of trait values. We quantified the relative contribution of inter- and intraspecific trait variation in specific leaf area (SLA), leaf dry matter content (LDMC), leaf carbon content (LCC), leaf nitrogen content (LNC), and plant height to the community response to habitat changes in the restoration of sandy grassland. We found that five weighted community-average traits varied significantly with habitat changes. Along the soil gradient in the restoration of sandy grassland, plant height, SLA, LDMC, and LCC increased, while LNC decreased. For all traits, there was a greater contribution of interspecific variation to community response in regard to habitat changes relative to that of intraspecific variation. The relative contribution of the interspecific variation effect of an abundance-weighted trait was greater than that of a non-weighted trait with regard to all traits except LDMC. A community-level trait response to habitat changes was due largely to species turnover. Though the intraspecific shift plays a small role in community trait response to habitat changes, it has an effect on plant coexistence and the maintenance of herbaceous plants in sandy grassland habitats. The context dependency of positive and negative covariation between inter- and intraspecific variation further suggests that both effects of inter- and intraspecific variation on a community trait should be considered when understanding a plant community response to environmental changes in sandy grassland ecosystems.
Project description:Dispersal is an important factor in plant community assembly, but assembly studies seldom include information on actual dispersal into communities, i.e. the local propagule pool. The aim of this study was to determine which factors influence plant community assembly by focusing on two phases of the assembly process: the dispersal phase and the establishment phase. At 12 study sites in grazed ex-arable fields in Sweden the local plant community was determined and in a 100-m radius around the centre of each site, the regional species pool was measured. The local seed bank and the seed rain was explored to estimate the local propagule pool. Trait-based models were then applied to investigate if species traits (height, seed mass, clonal abilities, specific leaf area and dispersal method) and regional abundance influenced which species from the regional species pool, dispersed to the local community (dispersal phase) and which established (establishment phase). Filtering of species during the dispersal phase indicates the effect of seed limitation while filtering during the establishment phase indicates microsite limitation. On average 36% of the regional species pool dispersed to the local sites and of those 78% did establish. Species with enhanced dispersal abilities, e.g. higher regional abundance, smaller seeds and dispersed by cattle, were more likely to disperse to the sites than other species. At half the sites, dispersal was influenced by species height. Species establishment was however mainly unlinked to the traits included in this study. This study underlines the importance of seed limitation in local plant community assembly. It also suggests that without information on species dispersal into a site, it is difficult to distinguish between the influence of dispersal and establishment abilities, and thus seed and microsite limitation, as both can be linked to the same trait.
Project description:<h4>Premise</h4>Determining which traits characterize strategies of coexisting species is important to developing trait-based models of plant communities. First, global dimensions may not exist locally. Second, the degree to which traits and trait spectra constitute independent dimensions of functional variation at various scales continues to be refined. Finally, traits may be associated with existing categorical groupings.<h4>Methods</h4>We assessed trait integration and differentiation across 57 forest understory plant species in Douglas-fir forests of western Oregon, United States. We combined measurements for a range of traits with literature-based estimates of seed mass and species groupings. We used network analysis and nonmetric multidimensional scaling ordination (NMS) to determine the degree of integration.<h4>Results</h4>We observed a strong leaf economics spectrum (LES) integrated with stem but not root traits. However, stem traits and intrinsic water-use efficiency integrated LES and root traits. Network analyses indicated a modest grouping of a priori trait dimensions. NMS indicated that multivariate differences among species were related primarily to (1) rooting depth and plant height vs. specific root length, (2) the LES, and (3) leaf size vs. seed mass. These differences were related to species groupings associated with growth and life form, leaf lifespan and seed dispersal mechanisms.<h4>Conclusions</h4>The strategies of coexisting understory plant species could not be reduced to a single dimension. Yet, species can be characterized efficiently and effectively for trait-based studies of plant communities by measuring four common traits: plant height, specific leaf area, leaf size, and seed mass.