Floristic and functional affiliations of woody plants with climate in western Amazonia

Butt, Nathalie, Malhi, Yadvinder, Phillips, Oliver and New, Mark (2008) Floristic and functional affiliations of woody plants with climate in western Amazonia. Journal of Biogeography, 35 5: 939-950. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2699.2007.01878.x

Author Butt, Nathalie
Malhi, Yadvinder
Phillips, Oliver
New, Mark
Title Floristic and functional affiliations of woody plants with climate in western Amazonia
Journal name Journal of Biogeography   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0305-0270
Publication date 2008-01-01
Year available 2008
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1111/j.1365-2699.2007.01878.x
Volume 35
Issue 5
Start page 939
End page 950
Total pages 12
Place of publication Oxford, United Kingdom
Publisher Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
Language eng
Subject 2303 Ecology
3305 Geography, Planning and Development
Abstract Aim: To test whether a direct relationship exists between the relative abundance of woody plant genera and precipitation regime along the north-south climate gradient of the western Amazon. Location: Lowland rain forests in the western Amazon. Methods: Floristic data on 91 woody plant genera, from 39 0.1-ha plots across the western Amazon, and precipitation data from a 0.5° global data set were used to test for correlations between plant relative abundance (defined as percentage number of stems ≥ 2.5 cm diameter at breast height for each woody plant genus per plot) and derived dry-season variables. Moisture preference was then assessed in terms of pioneer and shade-tolerant life-history strategy. Results: There were significant associations between the distribution of plant relative abundances and seasonal precipitation variables in 34% of genera analysed. Significant differences were identified in size-class distribution between dry affiliates and generalists. Dry affiliates were not dominant in any size class in any plot type, whereas climate generalists dominated most of the size classes in the dry plots and the mid-range size classes in the wet plots. Dry-affiliate genera were a minority, even in dry forests. Wet-affiliate genera were correlated with shade tolerance, whereas genera with no rainfall affiliation were often pioneers. Main conclusions: The results suggest that moisture variable seasonality influences community composition in a manner that can be related to the life-history trade-off between shade tolerance and pioneer ranking. One possible reason for higher diversity in wetter forests is that high rainfall amplifies the niche space available to shade-tolerant plants. Determining which plant groups are constrained by which environmental variables can contribute to our understanding of how forest composition may be changing now, and how it may change under future climate: if shade-tolerant trees are also drought-intolerant, community structure in wet forests may be more vulnerable to future increases in moisture stress.
Keyword Amazon forest
Community composition
Dry season intensity
Precipitation gradient
Relative abundance
Shade tolerance
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Non-UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collection: School of Biological Sciences Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 16 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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Created: Thu, 29 May 2014, 01:40:41 EST by Nathalie Butt on behalf of School of Biological Sciences