Specific leaf area responses to environmental gradients through space and time

Dwyer, John M., Hobbs, Richard J. and Mayfield, Margaret M. (2014) Specific leaf area responses to environmental gradients through space and time. Ecology, 95 2: 399-410. doi:10.1890/13-0412.1

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Author Dwyer, John M.
Hobbs, Richard J.
Mayfield, Margaret M.
Title Specific leaf area responses to environmental gradients through space and time
Journal name Ecology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0012-9658
1939-9170
Publication date 2014-02-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1890/13-0412.1
Open Access Status File (Publisher version)
Volume 95
Issue 2
Start page 399
End page 410
Total pages 12
Place of publication Ithaca, NY, United States
Publisher Ecological Society of America
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Plant communities can respond to environmental changes by altering their species composition and by individuals (within species) adjusting their physiology. These responses can be captured by measuring key functional traits among and within species along important environmental gradients. Some anthropogenic changes (such as fertilizer runoff) are known to induce distinct community responses, but rarely have responses across natural and anthropogenic gradients been compared in the same system. In this study, we used comprehensive specific leaf area (SLA) data from a diverse Australian annual plant system to examine how individual species and whole communities respond to natural and anthropogenic gradients, and to climatically different growing seasons. We also investigated the influence of different leaf-sampling strategies on community-level results. Many species had similar mean SLA values but differed in SLA responses to spatial and temporal environmental variation. At the community scale, we identified distinct SLA responses to natural and anthropogenic gradients. Along anthropogenic gradients, increased mean SLA, coupled with SLA convergence, revealed evidence of competitive exclusion. This was further supported by the dominance of species turnover (vs. intraspecific variation) along these gradients. We also revealed strong temporal changes in SLA distributions in response to increasing growing-season precipitation. These climate-driven changes highlight differences among co-occurring species in their adaptive capacity to exploit abundant water resources during favorable seasons, differences that are likely to be important for species coexistence in this system. In relation to leaf-sampling strategies, we found that using leaves from a climatically different growing season can lead to misleading conclusions at the community scale.
Keyword Acacia acuminata
Australia
Community assembly
Eucalyptus loxophleba
Intraspecific variation
Multilevel models
Specific leaf area
York gum woodlands
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2015 Collection
School of Biological Sciences Publications
 
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 21 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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Created: Wed, 26 Mar 2014, 17:52:46 EST by Dr John Dwyer on behalf of School of Biological Sciences