The Role of Plant Trait Variation in Community Assembly and Plant Diversity at Local to Continental Scales

Persistent Link:
http://hdl.handle.net/10150/265572
Title:
The Role of Plant Trait Variation in Community Assembly and Plant Diversity at Local to Continental Scales
Author:
Hulshof, Catherine Marie
Issue Date:
2012
Publisher:
The University of Arizona.
Rights:
Copyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Abstract:
The trait based approach has been proposed as a way to reconcile community ecology. Despite recent advances in trait based ecology, such as the development of global trait databases and standardized methodology for trait collections, it remains unclear to what degree traits vary across individuals, species, and communities. In addition, the drivers of trait variation may shed light on the underlying processes that maintain species diversity and community assembly at local to continental scales yet these have been poorly studied. In this study, I examine both the magnitude of trait variation as well as the patterns of trait variation at local to continental scales in order to understand the drivers of diversity patterns across environmental gradients. First, I quantified the magnitude of trait variation at local scales in a dry tropical forest and determined that intraspecific variation is not negligible and can be quite large for compound-leaved species. However, I showed that the sample sizes necessary for quantifying trait variation are tractable and should encourage the adoption of trait variation in trait based ecology. Second, I tested whether climatic variables are predominantly responsible for observed trait variation across dry tropical forests in the Americas. I showed that climatic variability, specifically variability in precipitation, explained a large degree of observed trait variation across dry tropical forests and may provide a unique approach for classifying dry tropical forests based on their inherent degree of climatic seasonality. Third, I quantified patterns of trait variation at continental scales across elevational gradients at high to low latitudes. I showed that climatic variables largely drive patterns of trait variation at high latitudes while biotic factors largely drive patterns of trait variation at low, tropical latitudes. This finding has implications for understanding large-scale patterns of species diversity across elevational and latitudinal gradients. Finally, I apply trait variation to life history theory by quantifying variation in two life history traits (growth and reproduction) in a tropical tree species using a legacy dataset. I showed that variation in these two life history traits is due to both resource availability and allometric related effects on both traits. In sum, this study advances our understanding of the magnitude and underlying drivers of trait variation at local to continental scales.
Type:
text; Electronic Dissertation
Keywords:
environmental gradient; functional trait; intraspecific variation; plant community ecology; Ecology & Evolutionary Biology; assembly; dry tropical forest
Degree Name:
Ph.D.
Degree Level:
doctoral
Degree Program:
Graduate College; Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
Degree Grantor:
University of Arizona
Advisor:
Enquist, Brian J.

Full metadata record

DC FieldValue Language
dc.language.isoenen_US
dc.titleThe Role of Plant Trait Variation in Community Assembly and Plant Diversity at Local to Continental Scalesen_US
dc.creatorHulshof, Catherine Marieen_US
dc.contributor.authorHulshof, Catherine Marieen_US
dc.date.issued2012-
dc.publisherThe University of Arizona.en_US
dc.rightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.en_US
dc.description.abstractThe trait based approach has been proposed as a way to reconcile community ecology. Despite recent advances in trait based ecology, such as the development of global trait databases and standardized methodology for trait collections, it remains unclear to what degree traits vary across individuals, species, and communities. In addition, the drivers of trait variation may shed light on the underlying processes that maintain species diversity and community assembly at local to continental scales yet these have been poorly studied. In this study, I examine both the magnitude of trait variation as well as the patterns of trait variation at local to continental scales in order to understand the drivers of diversity patterns across environmental gradients. First, I quantified the magnitude of trait variation at local scales in a dry tropical forest and determined that intraspecific variation is not negligible and can be quite large for compound-leaved species. However, I showed that the sample sizes necessary for quantifying trait variation are tractable and should encourage the adoption of trait variation in trait based ecology. Second, I tested whether climatic variables are predominantly responsible for observed trait variation across dry tropical forests in the Americas. I showed that climatic variability, specifically variability in precipitation, explained a large degree of observed trait variation across dry tropical forests and may provide a unique approach for classifying dry tropical forests based on their inherent degree of climatic seasonality. Third, I quantified patterns of trait variation at continental scales across elevational gradients at high to low latitudes. I showed that climatic variables largely drive patterns of trait variation at high latitudes while biotic factors largely drive patterns of trait variation at low, tropical latitudes. This finding has implications for understanding large-scale patterns of species diversity across elevational and latitudinal gradients. Finally, I apply trait variation to life history theory by quantifying variation in two life history traits (growth and reproduction) in a tropical tree species using a legacy dataset. I showed that variation in these two life history traits is due to both resource availability and allometric related effects on both traits. In sum, this study advances our understanding of the magnitude and underlying drivers of trait variation at local to continental scales.en_US
dc.typetexten_US
dc.typeElectronic Dissertationen_US
dc.subjectenvironmental gradienten_US
dc.subjectfunctional traiten_US
dc.subjectintraspecific variationen_US
dc.subjectplant community ecologyen_US
dc.subjectEcology & Evolutionary Biologyen_US
dc.subjectassemblyen_US
dc.subjectdry tropical foresten_US
thesis.degree.namePh.D.en_US
thesis.degree.leveldoctoralen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineGraduate Collegeen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineEcology & Evolutionary Biologyen_US
thesis.degree.grantorUniversity of Arizonaen_US
dc.contributor.advisorEnquist, Brian J.en_US
dc.contributor.committeememberArcher, Steveen_US
dc.contributor.committeememberChesson, Peteren_US
dc.contributor.committeememberHuxman, Travisen_US
dc.contributor.committeememberMcGill, Brianen_US
dc.contributor.committeememberSaleska, Scotten_US
dc.contributor.committeememberEnquist, Brian J.en_US
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