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Patterns of phenotypic trait variation in two temperate forest herbs along a broad climatic gradient

  • Phenotypic trait variation plays a major role in the response of plants to global environmental change, particularly in species with low migration capabilities and recruitment success. However, little is known about the variation of functional traits within populations and about differences in this variation on larger spatial scales. In a first approach, we therefore related trait expression to climate and local environmental conditions, studying two temperate forest herbs, Milium effusum and Stachys sylvatica, along a similar to 1800-2500 km latitudinal gradient. Within each of 9-10 regions in six European countries, we collected data from six populations of each species and recorded several variables in each region (temperature, precipitation) and population (light availability, soil parameters). For each plant, we measured height, leaf area, specific leaf area, seed mass and the number of seeds and examined environmental effects on within-population trait variation as well as on trait means. Most importantly, trait variationPhenotypic trait variation plays a major role in the response of plants to global environmental change, particularly in species with low migration capabilities and recruitment success. However, little is known about the variation of functional traits within populations and about differences in this variation on larger spatial scales. In a first approach, we therefore related trait expression to climate and local environmental conditions, studying two temperate forest herbs, Milium effusum and Stachys sylvatica, along a similar to 1800-2500 km latitudinal gradient. Within each of 9-10 regions in six European countries, we collected data from six populations of each species and recorded several variables in each region (temperature, precipitation) and population (light availability, soil parameters). For each plant, we measured height, leaf area, specific leaf area, seed mass and the number of seeds and examined environmental effects on within-population trait variation as well as on trait means. Most importantly, trait variation differed both between and within populations. Species, however, differed in their response. Intrapopulation variation in Milium was consistently positively affected by higher mean temperatures and precipitation as well as by more fertile local soil conditions, suggesting that more productive conditions may select for larger phenotypic variation. In Stachys, particularly light availability positively influenced trait variation, whereas local soil conditions had no consistent effects. Generally, our study emphasises that intra-population variation may differ considerably across larger scales-due to phenotypic plasticity and/or underlying genetic diversity-possibly affecting species response to global environmental change.show moreshow less

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Metadaten
Author:Isgard H. Lemke, Annette Kolb, Bente J. Graae, Pieter De Frenne, Kamal P. Acharya, Cristina Blandino, Jorg Brunet, Olivier Chabrerie, Sara A. O. Cousins, Guillaume Decocq, Thilo Heinken, Martin Hermy, Jaan Liira, Reto Schmucki, Anna Shevtsova, Kris Verheyen, Martin Diekmann
DOI:https://doi.org/10.1007/s11258-015-0534-0
ISSN:1385-0237 (print)
ISSN:1573-5052 (online)
Parent Title (English):Plant ecology : an international journal
Publisher:Springer
Place of publication:Dordrecht
Document Type:Article
Language:English
Year of first Publication:2015
Year of Completion:2015
Release Date:2017/03/27
Tag:Climate change; Global environmental change; Intraspecific variation; Milium effusum; Phenotypic plasticity; Stachys sylvatica
Volume:216
Issue:11
Pagenumber:14
First Page:1523
Last Page:1536
Funder:Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO); FWO
Organizational units:Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Fakultät / Institut für Biochemie und Biologie
Peer Review:Referiert
Publication Way:Open Access