77 research outputs found

    Non-linear effects of drought under shade: reconciling physiological and ecological models in plant communities

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    The combined effects of shade and drought on plant performance and the implications for species interactions are highly debated in plant ecology. Empirical evidence for positive and negative effects of shade on the performance of plants under dry conditions supports two contrasting theoretical models about the role of shade under dry conditions: the trade-off and the facilitation hypotheses. We performed a meta-analysis of field and greenhouse studies evaluating the effects of drought at two or more irradiance levels on nine response variables describing plant physiological condition, growth, and survival. We explored differences in plant response across plant functional types, ecosystem types and methodological approaches. The data were best fit using quadratic models indicating a humped-back shape response to drought along an irradiance gradient for survival, whole plant biomass, maximum photosynthetic capacity, stomatal conductance and maximal photochemical efficiency. Drought effects were ameliorated at intermediate irradiance, becoming more severe at higher or lower light levels. This general pattern was maintained when controlling for potential variations in the strength of the drought treatment among light levels. Our quantitative meta-analysis indicates that dense shade ameliorates drought especially among drought-intolerant and shade-tolerant species. Wet tropical species showed larger negative effects of drought with increasing irradiance than semiarid and cold temperate species. Non-linear responses to irradiance were stronger under field conditions than under controlled greenhouse conditions. Non-linear responses to drought along the irradiance gradient reconciliate opposing views in plant ecology, indicating that facilitation is more likely within certain range of environmental conditions, fading under deep shade, especially for drought-tolerant species

    Circum-Arctic distribution of chemical anti-herbivore compounds suggests biome-wide trade-off in defence strategies in Arctic shrubs

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    Spatial variation in plant chemical defence towards herbivores can help us understand variation in herbivore top-down control of shrubs in the Arctic and possibly also shrub responses to global warming. Less defended, non-resinous shrubs could be more influenced by herbivores than more defended, resinous shrubs. However, sparse field measurements limit our current understanding of how much of the circum-Arctic variation in defence compounds is explained by taxa or defence functional groups (resinous/non-resinous). We measured circum-Arctic chemical defence and leaf digestibility in resinous (Betula glandulosa, B. nana ssp. exilis) and non-resinous (B. nana ssp. nana, B. pumila) shrub birches to see how they vary among and within taxa and functional groups. Using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) metabolomic analyses and in vitro leaf digestibility via incubation in cattle rumen fluid, we analysed defence composition and leaf digestibility in 128 samples from 44 tundra locations. We found biogeographical patterns in anti-herbivore defence where mean leaf triterpene concentrations and twig resin gland density were greater in resinous taxa and mean concentrations of condensing tannins were greater in non-resinous taxa. This indicates a biome-wide trade-off between triterpene- or tannin-dominated defences. However, we also found variations in chemical defence composition and resin gland density both within and among functional groups (resinous/non-resinous) and taxa, suggesting these categorisations only partly predict chemical herbivore defence. Complex tannins were the only defence compounds negatively related to in vitro digestibility, identifying this previously neglected tannin group as having a potential key role in birch anti-herbivore defence. We conclude that circum-Arctic variation in birch anti-herbivore defence can be partly derived from biogeographical distributions of birch taxa, although our detailed mapping of plant defence provides more information on this variation and can be used for better predictions of herbivore effects on Arctic vegetation.Peer reviewe

    Mapping density, diversity and species-richness of the Amazon tree flora

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    Using 2.046 botanically-inventoried tree plots across the largest tropical forest on Earth, we mapped tree species-diversity and tree species-richness at 0.1-degree resolution, and investigated drivers for diversity and richness. Using only location, stratified by forest type, as predictor, our spatial model, to the best of our knowledge, provides the most accurate map of tree diversity in Amazonia to date, explaining approximately 70% of the tree diversity and species-richness. Large soil-forest combinations determine a significant percentage of the variation in tree species-richness and tree alpha-diversity in Amazonian forest-plots. We suggest that the size and fragmentation of these systems drive their large-scale diversity patterns and hence local diversity. A model not using location but cumulative water deficit, tree density, and temperature seasonality explains 47% of the tree species-richness in the terra-firme forest in Amazonia. Over large areas across Amazonia, residuals of this relationship are small and poorly spatially structured, suggesting that much of the residual variation may be local. The Guyana Shield area has consistently negative residuals, showing that this area has lower tree species-richness than expected by our models. We provide extensive plot meta-data, including tree density, tree alpha-diversity and tree species-richness results and gridded maps at 0.1-degree resolution