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Appears in Collections:Biological and Environmental Sciences Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Modes of functional biodiversity control on tree productivity across the European continent
Author(s): Ratcliffe, Sophia
Liebergesell, Mario
Ruiz-Benito, Paloma
Madrigal-Gonzalez, Jaime
Muñoz Castañeda, Jose M
Kändler, Gerald
Lehtonen, Aleksi
Dahlgren, Jonas
Kattge, Jens
Peñuelas, Josep
Zavala, Miguel A
Wirth, Christian
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Keywords: Climatic gradient
environmental filtering
forest succession
landscape scale
plant functional traits
tree productivity
Issue Date: Mar-2016
Date Deposited: 7-Mar-2016
Citation: Ratcliffe S, Liebergesell M, Ruiz-Benito P, Madrigal-Gonzalez J, Muñoz Castañeda JM, Kändler G, Lehtonen A, Dahlgren J, Kattge J, Peñuelas J, Zavala MA & Wirth C (2016) Modes of functional biodiversity control on tree productivity across the European continent. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 25 (3), pp. 251-262.
Abstract: Aim  The relative contribution of community functional diversity and composition to ecosystem functioning is a critical question in ecology in order to enable better predictions of how ecosystems may respond to a changing climate. However, there is little consensus about which modes of functional biodiversity are most important for tree growth at large spatial scales. Here we assessed the relative importance of climate, functional diversity and functional identity (i.e. the community mean values of four key functional traits) for tree growth across the European continent, spanning the northern boreal to the southern Mediterranean forests.  Location  Finland, Germany, Sweden, Spain and Wallonia (Belgium).  Methods  Using data from five European national forest inventories we applied a hierarchical linear model to estimate the sensitivity of tree growth to changes in climate, functional diversity and functional identity along a latitudinal gradient.  Results  Functional diversity was weakly related to tree growth in the temperate and boreal regions and more strongly in the Mediterranean region. In the temperate region, where climate was the most important predictor, functional diversity and identity had a similar importance for tree growth. Functional identity was strongest at the latitudinal extremes of the continent, largely driven by strong changes in the importance of maximum height along the latitudinal gradient.  Main conclusions  Functional diversity is an important driver of tree growth in the Mediterranean region, providing evidence that niche complementarity may be more important for tree growth in water-limited forests. The strong influence of functional identity at the latitudinal extremes indicates the importance of a particular trait composition for tree growth in harsh climates. Furthermore, we speculate that this functional identity signal may reflect a trait-based differentiation of successional stages rather than abiotic filtering due to water or energy limitation.
DOI Link: 10.1111/geb.12406
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