Species-level CWM values mask contrasting intra- vs interspecific trait shifts at subtropical forest edges


The vast majority of studies in trait ecology simply measure species-level trait means from a small subset of individuals, and use these to calculate a ‘community-weighted trait-mean’ (CWM) values. This approach is problematic if there is high variance or skew in intraspecific trait values, or indeed directional shifts in selection for individual-level traits along extreme environmental gradients that run counter to species-level trait responses. Here, we carry out the first study (to our knowledge) that disentangles inter- and intraspecific trait variation of woody plant communities in response to edge effects within isolated habitat islands. On 20 islands we established 484 plots in a stratified random manner from 0 – 128 m from the forest edge, and sampled leaves (n = 34,768) from within and among all 2,993 individuals of 68 species, in order to obtain measure for five of the most important leaf traits. We find that the magnitude, and even direction of shifts in within-species trait values does not always mirror that shown at the species level. Consequently, the typical species-level CWM approach, so widely used in trait ecology, can actually mask community-wide outcomes. Importantly, the degree of bias is not the same under all conditions. Explicit incorporation of intraspecific trait variation can either reinforce, or dampen, apparent CWM trends under contrasting conditions, depending on the species trait in question, and whether there is positive vs. negative covariance (respectively) between intra- and interspecific trait shifts along environmental gradients.

Speaker: Dr. Shilu Zheng

Affiliation: Fudan University

Time: May. 31, 2022

Venue: 瞩目会议平台 会议 ID:1000451372 会议密码 PWD:666666 

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