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Interactive effects between plant functional types and soil factors on tundra species diversity and community composition


Iturrate-Garcia, Maitane; O'Brien, Michael J; Khitun, Olga; Abiven, Samuel; Niklaus, Pascal A; Schaepman-Strub, Gabriela (2016). Interactive effects between plant functional types and soil factors on tundra species diversity and community composition. Ecology and Evolution, 6(22):8126-8137.

Abstract

Plant communities are coupled with abiotic factors, as species diversity and community composition both respond to and influence climate and soil characteristics. Interactions between vegetation and abiotic factors depend on plant functional types (PFT) as different growth forms will have differential responses to and effects on site characteristics. However, despite the importance of different PFT for community assembly and ecosystem functioning, research has mainly focused on vascular plants. Here, we established a set of observational plots in two contrasting habitats in northeastern Siberia in order to assess the relationship between species diversity and community composition with soil variables, as well as the relationship between vegetation cover and species diversity for two PFT (nonvascular and vascular). We found that nonvascular species diversity decreased with soil acidity and moisture and, to a lesser extent, with soil temperature and active layer thickness. In contrast, no such correlation was found for vascular species diversity. Differences in community composition were found mainly along soil acidity and moisture gradients. However, the proportion of variation in composition explained by the measured soil variables was much lower for nonvascular than for vascular species when considering the PFT separately. We also found different relationships between vegetation cover and species diversity according the PFT and habitat. In support of niche differentiation theory, species diversity and community composition were related to edaphic factors. The distinct relationships found for nonvascular and vascular species suggest the importance of considering multiple PFT when assessing species diversity and composition and their interaction with edaphic factors. Synthesis: Identifying vegetation responses to edaphic factors is a first step toward a better understanding of vegetation–soil feedbacks under climate change. Our results suggest that incorporating differential responses of PFT is important for predicting vegetation shifts, primary productivity, and in turn, ecosystem functioning in a c hanging climate.

Abstract

Plant communities are coupled with abiotic factors, as species diversity and community composition both respond to and influence climate and soil characteristics. Interactions between vegetation and abiotic factors depend on plant functional types (PFT) as different growth forms will have differential responses to and effects on site characteristics. However, despite the importance of different PFT for community assembly and ecosystem functioning, research has mainly focused on vascular plants. Here, we established a set of observational plots in two contrasting habitats in northeastern Siberia in order to assess the relationship between species diversity and community composition with soil variables, as well as the relationship between vegetation cover and species diversity for two PFT (nonvascular and vascular). We found that nonvascular species diversity decreased with soil acidity and moisture and, to a lesser extent, with soil temperature and active layer thickness. In contrast, no such correlation was found for vascular species diversity. Differences in community composition were found mainly along soil acidity and moisture gradients. However, the proportion of variation in composition explained by the measured soil variables was much lower for nonvascular than for vascular species when considering the PFT separately. We also found different relationships between vegetation cover and species diversity according the PFT and habitat. In support of niche differentiation theory, species diversity and community composition were related to edaphic factors. The distinct relationships found for nonvascular and vascular species suggest the importance of considering multiple PFT when assessing species diversity and composition and their interaction with edaphic factors. Synthesis: Identifying vegetation responses to edaphic factors is a first step toward a better understanding of vegetation–soil feedbacks under climate change. Our results suggest that incorporating differential responses of PFT is important for predicting vegetation shifts, primary productivity, and in turn, ecosystem functioning in a c hanging climate.

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Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Language:English
Date:2016
Deposited On:02 Nov 2016 08:20
Last Modified:08 Dec 2017 20:40
Publisher:Wiley Open Access
ISSN:2045-7758
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.2548

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