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Functional traits of dominant plant species of the brazilian sandy coastal plain

Author: 
João Carlos Ferreira de Melo Júnior and Maria Regina Torres Boeger
Subject Area: 
Life Sciences
Abstract: 

Variation in the functional traits of plants stem from evolutionary and environmental drivers that operate on different scales. Such traits are linked to growth, survival, and reproduction of organisms and tend to vary less in harsh environments. This study evaluated the variation in leaf and wood traits of dominant plant species of different types of restinga vegetation to answer (i) which traits respond most to edaphic conditions and (ii) in which vegetation type are species more functionally redundant. The functional attributes considered were height of individuals, leaf inclination angle, leaf area, leaf dry matter content, specific leaf area, wood density, tangential vessel diameter, vessel frequency, conductivity index, and vulnerability index. The analyses of functional attributes, diversity, and functional redundancy in association with the edaphic parameters of organic matter content, cation exchange capacity, and gravimetric moisture used SYNCSA software. The relationship between edaphic and functional attributes was determined by linear regression. ANOVA revealed variations in the morphological and anatomical attributes of the species. The optimal subset of leaf attributes that maximize species convergence include leaf inclination angle and specific leaf area. Convergence was expressed by all of the attributes of wood measured. Strong correlations appeared between optimal attributes and soil variables. Functional diversity progressively increased towards the forest formation, while functional redundancy was higher in herbaceous formations. There is evidence of a directional environmental filter that acts with a greater selective force on the herbaceous formations, since species growing in resource-limited environments tend to develop more convergent morpho-anatomical adjustments.

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