Understanding how functional traits influence community assemblage and functioning is crucial for assessing the effects of global change on vegetation composition. We studied the functional composition (i.e., plant size (SIZE), leaf area (LA), specific leaf area (SLA), and leaf dry matter content (LDMC)) of a xerophile pasture and a mesophile grassland in southern Italy, and recorded species richness (SR), plant cover (COV) and flowering rates (FLOW) over a 7-year period. Both communities revealed the dominance of stress-tolerators, probably reflecting an adaptation to the Mediterranean climate. The functional classification of species distinguished three groups. Species from the mesophile community had larger SIZE and LA, while those from the xerophile pasture showed higher LDMC; SLA was not connected to the source community. Community-level analyses confirmed such patterns, but with higher SLA in the mesophile grassland. While SR was comparable, COV and FLOW varied between the communities. At the species level, LDMC was positively related to FLOW and the inter-annual variability of COV and FLOW. At the community level, SIZE, LA and SLA were positively related to COV, while LDMC was positively related to FLOW. Trait variations can significantly contribute to the xerophile-mesophile shift in Mediterranean mountain vegetation, by regulating the productivity of species and communities in the two contexts and, possibly, their responsiveness to global change.

Relating Trait Variation to Species and Community Productivity in Contrasting Oro-Mediterranean Pastures: A 7-Years Study in the Pollino National Park (S-Italy)

Fenu, Giuseppe
Secondo
;
2022-01-01

Abstract

Understanding how functional traits influence community assemblage and functioning is crucial for assessing the effects of global change on vegetation composition. We studied the functional composition (i.e., plant size (SIZE), leaf area (LA), specific leaf area (SLA), and leaf dry matter content (LDMC)) of a xerophile pasture and a mesophile grassland in southern Italy, and recorded species richness (SR), plant cover (COV) and flowering rates (FLOW) over a 7-year period. Both communities revealed the dominance of stress-tolerators, probably reflecting an adaptation to the Mediterranean climate. The functional classification of species distinguished three groups. Species from the mesophile community had larger SIZE and LA, while those from the xerophile pasture showed higher LDMC; SLA was not connected to the source community. Community-level analyses confirmed such patterns, but with higher SLA in the mesophile grassland. While SR was comparable, COV and FLOW varied between the communities. At the species level, LDMC was positively related to FLOW and the inter-annual variability of COV and FLOW. At the community level, SIZE, LA and SLA were positively related to COV, while LDMC was positively related to FLOW. Trait variations can significantly contribute to the xerophile-mesophile shift in Mediterranean mountain vegetation, by regulating the productivity of species and communities in the two contexts and, possibly, their responsiveness to global change.
Mediterranean mountain vegetation; Biodiversity conservation; Climate change; Functional traits; Plant productivity
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11584/347722
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