Aim: The microclimate and light conditions on the forest floor are strongly modified by tree canopies. Therefore, we need to better consider the micro-environment when quantifying trait–environment relationships for forest understorey plants. Here, we quantify relationships between micro-environmental conditions and plant functional traits at the community level, including intraspecific trait variation, and their relationship with microclimate air temperature, light and soil properties. Location: Deciduous temperate forests across Europe. Time period: 2018. Major taxa studied: Herbaceous vegetation. Methods: We sampled 225 plots across 15 regions along four complementary gradients capturing both macro- and microclimatic conditions including latitude, elevation, forest management and distance to forest edges. We related the community-weighted mean of five plant functional traits (plant height, specific leaf area [SLA], plant carbon [C], plant nitrogen [N] and plant C:N ratio) across 150 vascular plant species to variation in local microclimate air temperature, light and soil properties. We tested the effect of accounting for intraspecific variation in trait–environment relationships and performed variation partitioning to identify major drivers of trait variation. Results: Microclimate temperature, light availability and soil properties were all important predictors of community-weighted mean functional traits. When light availability and variation in temperature were higher, the herb community often consisted of taller plants with a higher C:N ratio. In more productive environments (e.g. with high soil nitrogen availability), the community was dominated by individuals with resource-acquisitive traits: high SLA and N but low C:N. Including intraspecific trait variation increased the strength of the trait–micro-environment relationship, and increased the importance of light availability. Main conclusions: The trait–environment relationships were much stronger when the micro-environment and intraspecific trait variation were considered. By locally steering light availability and temperature, forest managers can potentially impact the functional signature of the forest herb-layer community.

Trait–micro-environment relationships of forest herb communities across Europe / Sanne Govaert, Camille Meeussen, Thomas Vanneste, Kurt Bollmann, Jörg Brunet, Kim Calders, Sara A. O. Cousins, Karen De Pauw, Martin Diekmann, Bente J. Graae, Per-Ola Hedwall, Giovanni Iacopetti, Jonathan Lenoir, Sigrid Lindmo, Anna Orczewska, Quentin Ponette, Jan Plue, Pieter Sanczuk, Federico Selvi, Fabien Spicher, Kris Verheyen, Pieter Vangansbeke, Pieter De Frenne. - In: GLOBAL ECOLOGY AND BIOGEOGRAPHY. - ISSN 1466-8238. - ELETTRONICO. - 2023:(2023), pp. -------.1--------.17. [10.1111/geb.13789]

Trait–micro-environment relationships of forest herb communities across Europe

Giovanni Iacopetti;Federico Selvi
Investigation
;
2023

Abstract

Aim: The microclimate and light conditions on the forest floor are strongly modified by tree canopies. Therefore, we need to better consider the micro-environment when quantifying trait–environment relationships for forest understorey plants. Here, we quantify relationships between micro-environmental conditions and plant functional traits at the community level, including intraspecific trait variation, and their relationship with microclimate air temperature, light and soil properties. Location: Deciduous temperate forests across Europe. Time period: 2018. Major taxa studied: Herbaceous vegetation. Methods: We sampled 225 plots across 15 regions along four complementary gradients capturing both macro- and microclimatic conditions including latitude, elevation, forest management and distance to forest edges. We related the community-weighted mean of five plant functional traits (plant height, specific leaf area [SLA], plant carbon [C], plant nitrogen [N] and plant C:N ratio) across 150 vascular plant species to variation in local microclimate air temperature, light and soil properties. We tested the effect of accounting for intraspecific variation in trait–environment relationships and performed variation partitioning to identify major drivers of trait variation. Results: Microclimate temperature, light availability and soil properties were all important predictors of community-weighted mean functional traits. When light availability and variation in temperature were higher, the herb community often consisted of taller plants with a higher C:N ratio. In more productive environments (e.g. with high soil nitrogen availability), the community was dominated by individuals with resource-acquisitive traits: high SLA and N but low C:N. Including intraspecific trait variation increased the strength of the trait–micro-environment relationship, and increased the importance of light availability. Main conclusions: The trait–environment relationships were much stronger when the micro-environment and intraspecific trait variation were considered. By locally steering light availability and temperature, forest managers can potentially impact the functional signature of the forest herb-layer community.
2023
2023
1
17
Goal 15: Life on land
Sanne Govaert, Camille Meeussen, Thomas Vanneste, Kurt Bollmann, Jörg Brunet, Kim Calders, Sara A. O. Cousins, Karen De Pauw, Martin Diekmann, Bente J. Graae, Per-Ola Hedwall, Giovanni Iacopetti, Jonathan Lenoir, Sigrid Lindmo, Anna Orczewska, Quentin Ponette, Jan Plue, Pieter Sanczuk, Federico Selvi, Fabien Spicher, Kris Verheyen, Pieter Vangansbeke, Pieter De Frenne
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Utilizza questo identificatore per citare o creare un link a questa risorsa: https://hdl.handle.net/2158/1345671
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