Originally Published In
Spasojevic, M. J., Turner, B. L., & Myers, J. A. (2016). When does intraspecific trait variation contribute to functional beta‐diversity?. Journal of Ecology, 104, 487–496.
- Intraspecific trait variation (ITV) is hypothesized to play an important role in community assembly and the maintenance of biodiversity. However, fundamental gaps remain in our understanding of how ITV contributes to mechanisms that create spatial variation in the functional-trait composition of communities (functional Β-diversity). Importantly, ITV may influence the perceived importance of environmental filtering across spatial scales.
- We examined how ITV contributes to functional Β-diversity and environmental filtering in woody plant communities in a temperate forest in the Ozark ecoregion, Missouri, USA. To test the hypothesis that ITV contributes to changes in the perceived importance of environmental filtering across scales, we compared patterns of functional Β-diversity across soil-resource and topographic gradients at three spatial grains and three spatial extents. To quantify the contribution of ITV to functional Β-diversity, we compared patterns that included ITV in five traits (leaf area, specific leaf area, leaf water content, leaf toughness and chlorophyll content) to patterns based on species-mean trait values.
- Functional Β-diversity that included ITV increased with spatial extent and decreased with spatial grain, suggesting stronger environmental filtering within spatially extensive landscapes that contain populations locally adapted to different habitats. In contrast, functional β-diversity based on species-mean trait values increased with spatial extent but did not change with spatial grain, suggesting weaker environmental filtering among larger communities which each contain a variety of habitats and locally adapted populations.
- Synthesis. Although studies typically infer community assembly mechanisms from species-mean trait values, our study suggests that mean trait values may mask the strength of assembly mechanisms such as environmental filtering, especially in landscape-scale studies that encompass strong environmental gradients and locally adapted populations. Our study highlights the utility of integrating ITV into studies of functional Β-diversity to better understand the ecological conditions under which trait variation within and among species contributes most strongly to patterns of biodiversity across spatial scales.
Spasojevic, Marko J.; Turner, Benjamin L.; and Myers, Jonathan A., "When does intraspecific trait variation contribute to functional beta-diversity?" (2016). Biology Faculty Publications & Presentations. 114.