Aim: The soil seed bank is a key component of the biodiversity of plant communities, but various aspects of its functioning in temperate forest ecosystems are still unknown. We here adopted a trait-based approach to investigate the effects of macro-and microclimatic gradients on the juvenile plant communities from the realized seed bank of two types of European temperate forest. Location: Oak-dominated forests in Italy and Belgium. Methods: We analysed the variation of key functional traits (plant height, leaf area, leaf dry weight, specific leaf area and leaf number) of juvenile plants from the realised soil seed bank in relation to elevation (from 0 to 800 m a.s.l.), forest type (thinned and unthinned forest) and distance to the forest edge. We translocated soil samples from the forest core to the edge (and vice versa) and from high-to low-elevation forests to test the effects of edge and warming respectively. Results: Taller communities developed at the forest edge due to higher light availability and warmer temperatures. The translocation from the core to the edge did not significantly modify mean trait values. Instead, the shadier and cooler microclimate of the forest core reduced the mean leaf area, mean dry weight, height and leaf number in the communities realised from the edge soil. The translocation from high-to lowland forests led to increased values for all traits (except specific leaf area). Edge vs core trait variation was more driven by intraspecific variability, whereas the translocation from high-to low-elevation forests caused trait changes mostly due to species turnover. Conclusions: Global warming might result in a functional shift of the understorey due to both an early filtering effect on the seedlings from soil seed banks and their adaptive trait adjustments to temperature increase. Furthermore, our study underpins the importance of edge vs core microclimate in driving the functional composition of the realised soil seed bank.

Trait variation in juvenile plants from the soil seed bank of temperate forests in relation to macro-and microclimate / Cristina Gasperini, Elisa Carrari, Sanne Govaert, Camille Meeussen, Karen De Pauw, Jan Plue, Pieter Sanczuk, Thomas Vanneste, Pieter Vangansbeke, Giovanni Iacopetti, Pieter De Frenne, Federico Selvi. - In: APPLIED VEGETATION SCIENCE. - ISSN 1654-109X. - STAMPA. - 26:(2023), pp. e12739.1-e12739.15. [10.1111/avsc.12739]

Trait variation in juvenile plants from the soil seed bank of temperate forests in relation to macro-and microclimate

Cristina Gasperini
;
Elisa Carrari;Giovanni Iacopetti;Pieter De Frenne;Federico Selvi
2023

Abstract

Aim: The soil seed bank is a key component of the biodiversity of plant communities, but various aspects of its functioning in temperate forest ecosystems are still unknown. We here adopted a trait-based approach to investigate the effects of macro-and microclimatic gradients on the juvenile plant communities from the realized seed bank of two types of European temperate forest. Location: Oak-dominated forests in Italy and Belgium. Methods: We analysed the variation of key functional traits (plant height, leaf area, leaf dry weight, specific leaf area and leaf number) of juvenile plants from the realised soil seed bank in relation to elevation (from 0 to 800 m a.s.l.), forest type (thinned and unthinned forest) and distance to the forest edge. We translocated soil samples from the forest core to the edge (and vice versa) and from high-to low-elevation forests to test the effects of edge and warming respectively. Results: Taller communities developed at the forest edge due to higher light availability and warmer temperatures. The translocation from the core to the edge did not significantly modify mean trait values. Instead, the shadier and cooler microclimate of the forest core reduced the mean leaf area, mean dry weight, height and leaf number in the communities realised from the edge soil. The translocation from high-to lowland forests led to increased values for all traits (except specific leaf area). Edge vs core trait variation was more driven by intraspecific variability, whereas the translocation from high-to low-elevation forests caused trait changes mostly due to species turnover. Conclusions: Global warming might result in a functional shift of the understorey due to both an early filtering effect on the seedlings from soil seed banks and their adaptive trait adjustments to temperature increase. Furthermore, our study underpins the importance of edge vs core microclimate in driving the functional composition of the realised soil seed bank.
2023
26
1
15
Goal 15: Life on land
Cristina Gasperini, Elisa Carrari, Sanne Govaert, Camille Meeussen, Karen De Pauw, Jan Plue, Pieter Sanczuk, Thomas Vanneste, Pieter Vangansbeke, Giovanni Iacopetti, Pieter De Frenne, Federico Selvi
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Utilizza questo identificatore per citare o creare un link a questa risorsa: https://hdl.handle.net/2158/1323933
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