Florian Hofhansl

Tropical Ecosystem Research

New study published in Ecology & Evolution

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Our most recent article “Mechanisms driving plant functional trait variation in a tropical forest” has been published in Ecology and Evolution.

Results of this study were proudly presented @AGU Centennial Fall meeting in San Francisco, USA.

In this study we have been investigating mechanism driving the variation of functional traits among neotropical tree individuals. To this end, we have used a statistical approach to separate different components of trait variation. To achieve this, we assumed that genetic differences in plant functional traits between species and genotypes increase with environmental heterogeneity and geographic distance, whereas trait variation due to plastic acclimation to the local environment is independent of spatial distance between sampling sites. We applied a so-called multiple regression on distance matrices to dissect the relative amount of variation associated with environmental heterogeneity vs. the one related to purely spatial constraints, i.e. geographic distance between sampling sites, which allowed to separate the impact of environmental driving factors from neutral processes in concert driving plant functional trait variation in hyperdiverse tropical forests. Beyond the initial study aims to separate respective components of trait variation we found that coexisting neotropical tree species responded differently to the same environmental cues, which indicates that under projected climate change endemic species with conservative ecological strategies could be even more prone to competitive exclusion than their widespread congeners.

Read more about our research on the following link to the article on the publisher website.

Teamwork
Fieldwork for this study was sometimes extremely challenging but absolutely worth it due to my fabulous field assistant.
Not seeing the forest for the trees…?
When the day is done…!

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