Elevational gradients offer special opportunities to investigate the relative role of intraspecific and interspecific trait variations in relation to stress gradients. We used an altitudinal gradient in the Mediterranean (Mt Velino, Central Italy) to study (1) how community-weighted means (CWM) and nonweighted means (CM) vary with elevation for plant height, specific leaf area, and seed mass; and (2) how variation patterns differ for inter-and intraspecific functional variability. We tested (1) if elevation influences community functional composition on the basis of the adaptive value of plant traits and (2) if the latter shows intraspecific variations according to the species’ ability to cope with local conditions. We found that different traits showed different patterns, which can be linked to the function they express. Differences between communities were influenced more by differences between their traits (CM) than by the relative species coverage (CWM). Both highest and lowest elevations were the most selective due to their particularly severe climatic conditions. Inter-mediate elevations were the most favorable thanks to less constraining climatic conditions. Interspecific trait variability was the most relevant component, indicating a low plant ability to cope with environmental variations through phenotypic plasticity.

The role of inter-and intraspecific variations in grassland plant functional traits along an elevational gradient in a mediterranean mountain area

Di Biase L.;Fattorini S.
;
2021

Abstract

Elevational gradients offer special opportunities to investigate the relative role of intraspecific and interspecific trait variations in relation to stress gradients. We used an altitudinal gradient in the Mediterranean (Mt Velino, Central Italy) to study (1) how community-weighted means (CWM) and nonweighted means (CM) vary with elevation for plant height, specific leaf area, and seed mass; and (2) how variation patterns differ for inter-and intraspecific functional variability. We tested (1) if elevation influences community functional composition on the basis of the adaptive value of plant traits and (2) if the latter shows intraspecific variations according to the species’ ability to cope with local conditions. We found that different traits showed different patterns, which can be linked to the function they express. Differences between communities were influenced more by differences between their traits (CM) than by the relative species coverage (CWM). Both highest and lowest elevations were the most selective due to their particularly severe climatic conditions. Inter-mediate elevations were the most favorable thanks to less constraining climatic conditions. Interspecific trait variability was the most relevant component, indicating a low plant ability to cope with environmental variations through phenotypic plasticity.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11697/178501
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