Laforest-Lapointe I., Martinez-Vilalta J., Retana J. (2014) Intraspecific variability in functional traits matters: Case study of Scots pine. Oecologia. 175: 1337-1348.EnllaçDoi: 10.1007/s00442-014-2967-x
Although intraspecific trait variability is an important component of species ecological plasticity and niche breadth, its implications for community and functional ecology have not been thoroughly explored. We characterized the intraspecific functional trait variability of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) in Catalonia (NE Spain) in order to (1) compare it to the interspecific trait variability of trees in the same region, (2) explore the relationships among functional traits and the relationships between them and stand and climatic variables, and (3) study the role of functional trait variability as a determinant of radial growth. We considered five traits: wood density (WD), maximum tree height (H max), leaf nitrogen content (Nmass), specific leaf area (SLA), and leaf biomass-to-sapwood area ratio (B L:A S). A unique dataset was obtained from the Ecological and Forest Inventory of Catalonia (IEFC), including data from 406 plots. Intraspecific trait variation was substantial for all traits, with coefficients of variation ranging between 8 % for WD and 24 % for B L:A S. In some cases, correlations among functional traits differed from those reported across species (e.g., H max and WD were positively related, whereas SLA and Nmass were uncorrelated). Overall, our model accounted for 47 % of the spatial variability in Scots pine radial growth. Our study emphasizes the hierarchy of factors that determine intraspecific variations in functional traits in Scots pine and their strong association with spatial variability in radial growth. We claim that intraspecific trait variation is an important determinant of responses of plants to changes in climate and other environmental factors, and should be included in predictive models of vegetation dynamics. © 2014 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.
Martinez-Vilalta J., Poyatos R., Aguade D., Retana J., Mencuccini M. (2014) A new look at water transport regulation in plants. New Phytologist. : 0-0.EnllaçDoi: 10.1111/nph.12912
Plant function requires effective mechanisms to regulate water transport at a variety of scales. Here, we develop a new theoretical framework describing plant responses to drying soil, based on the relationship between midday and predawn leaf water potentials. The intercept of the relationship (Λ) characterizes the maximum transpiration rate per unit of hydraulic transport capacity, whereas the slope (σ) measures the relative sensitivity of the transpiration rate and plant hydraulic conductance to declining water availability. This framework was applied to a newly compiled global database of leaf water potentials to estimate the values of Λ and σ for 102 plant species. Our results show that our characterization of drought responses is largely consistent within species, and that the parameters Λ and σ show meaningful associations with climate across species. Parameter σ was ≤1 in most species, indicating a tight coordination between the gas and liquid phases of water transport, in which canopy transpiration tended to decline faster than hydraulic conductance during drought, thus reducing the pressure drop through the plant. The quantitative framework presented here offers a new way of characterizing water transport regulation in plants that can be used to assess their vulnerability to drought under current and future climatic conditions. © 2014 New Phytologist Trust.
Vila-Cabrera A., Martinez-Vilalta J., Retana J. (2014) Variation in reproduction and growth in declining Scots pine populations. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics. 16: 111-120.EnllaçDoi: 10.1016/j.ppees.2014.02.005
Disentangling how variation in reproduction and growth is linked in plants across different ecological scales, and how allocation rules change in response to stress are fundamental aspects of life history theory. Although it is known that reproductive allocation is an allometric process and that environmental conditions can influence demographic traits, patterns of variation in vegetative and reproductive functions across and within individuals of tree species suffering drought-induced decline have rarely been documented. In this study we use Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) as a model species to explore patterns of variation in cone production and growth in two declining populations at the southern edge of its distribution. A Bayesian approach was used to assess how these demographic traits vary as a function of drought effects and competition and covary across different ecological scales. The allometric trajectories relating tree size with cone production and growth differed along gradients of drought impacts and biotic interactions. Although reproduction and growth increased with tree size, cone production reached a maximum at intermediate sized trees and stabilized or decreased at larger sizes. Drought stress effects (defoliation at the tree level and overall decline at the plot level) and competition for resources reduced cone production and growth. Our results also showed differential effects of defoliation on cone production depending on tree size, with stronger effects on larger individuals. After accounting for these effects, much of the variation of demographic traits and correlations among them occurred at small ecological scales across individuals (i.e. within plots) and within individuals across years. This resulted in covariations between demographic traits among nearby individuals and within individuals through time, suggesting a consistent advantage in resource acquisition of some individuals within plots, and trade-offs between growth and cone production within trees across years. In conclusion, this study reports that drought-induced forest decline is associated with lower growth and cone production in Scots pine, which could contribute to explain the long-term impacts of drought in southern populations of this species and, in particular, its low regeneration capacity after severe drought. © 2014 Geobotanisches Institut ETH, Stiftung Ruebel.
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