Abundance-weighted plant functional trait variation differs between terrestrial and wetland habitats along wide climatic gradients

Yu-Kun Hu, Guo-Fang Liu, Xu Pan, Yao-Bin Song, Ming Dong, Johannes H. C. Cornelissen

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    Patterns of plant trait variation across spatial scales are important for understanding ecosystem functioning and services. However, habitat-related drivers of these patterns are poorly understood. In a conceptual model, we ask whether and how the patterns of within- and among-site plant trait variation are driven by habitat type (terrestrial vs. wetland) across large climatic gradients. We tested these through spatial-hierarchical-sampling of leaves in herbaceous-dominated terrestrial and wetland communities within each of 26 sites across China. For all 13 plant traits, within-site variation was larger than among-site variation in both terrestrial and wetland habitats. Within-site variation was similar in most leaf traits related to carbon and nutrient economics but larger in specific leaf area and size-related traits (plant height, leaf area and thickness) in wetland compared to terrestrial habitats. Among-site variation was larger in terrestrial than wetland habitats for 10 leaf traits but smaller for plant height, leaf area and leaf nitrogen. Our results indicate the important role of local ecological processes in driving plant trait variation among coexisting species and the dependence of functional variation across habitats on traits considered. These findings will help to understand and predict the effects of climatic or land-use changes on ecosystem functioning and services.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)593-605
    Number of pages13
    Issue number4
    Early online date21 Sept 2020
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021


    • community-weighted mean (CWM)
    • functional biogeography
    • functional diversity
    • leaf economic traits
    • size-related traits
    • spatial scale
    • wetlands


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