Functional traits shed new light on the nature of ecotones: a study across a bog-to-forest sequence

Brownstein, G., Doebert, T. F., Dobbie, L. R., Hashim, N. H. and Wilson, J. Bastow (2013) Functional traits shed new light on the nature of ecotones: a study across a bog-to-forest sequence. Community Ecology, 14 1: 31-40. doi:10.1556/ComEc.14.2013.1.4

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Author Brownstein, G.
Doebert, T. F.
Dobbie, L. R.
Hashim, N. H.
Wilson, J. Bastow
Title Functional traits shed new light on the nature of ecotones: a study across a bog-to-forest sequence
Journal name Community Ecology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1585-8553
Publication date 2013-06-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1556/ComEc.14.2013.1.4
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 14
Issue 1
Start page 31
End page 40
Total pages 10
Place of publication Budapest, Hungary
Publisher Akademiai Kiado
Language eng
Abstract Ecotones have long been a focus of ecological research, and there is considerable current interest in functional traits in community ecology. Yet, surprisingly, the functional trait approach has not been applied to ecotones. A bog-forest sequence in southern New Zealand was sampled with a grid of quadrats, and eight traits related to leaf function were measured on the 54 species found. Two ecotones were identified using moving-window analysis: Ecotone I was the transition from bog to edge forest, and Ecotone II was the transition from edge forest to tall climax forest. No strict ecotonal species were present. In contrast to theoretical predictions, species richness was not higher or lower in either ecotone, rather, both ecotones represented a transition in richness from one community to the other. It has long been said that ecotones are mosaics, but species mosaicity was no higher in either ecotone than in the adjacent communities, in fact it was lower in Ecotone I. Functional trait diversity decreased along the sequence from bog to forest, with no deviation in either ecotone. However, examining mosaicity in terms of traits, there was a steady rise in Ecotone I and, in conformance with ecotone / functional trait theory, a clear peak in Ecotone II. We conclude that the features claimed for ecotones are often not present, and whether they are present is dependent on the components measured: species vs traits. Here, the clearest patterns were seen in trait mosaicity, but even this differed markedly between the two ecotones. Generalisations about ecotones should be avoided; they will vary from ecotone to ecotone, and probably depend on the type of ecotone: anthropogenic, environmental, switch, etc.
Keyword Ecotonal species
Functional diversity
Species diversity
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
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