Diversity and mean specific leaf area of Mediterranean woody vegetation changes in response to summer drought across a double stress gradient: The role of phenotypic plasticity
EntityUAM. Departamento de Ecología
10.1111/jvs.13180Journal of Vegetation Science 34.2 (2023): e13180
ISSN1100-9233 (print); 1654-1103 (online)
Funded byAdministrative and financial support was received from the Autonomous Community of Madrid (Project REMEDINAL TECM S2018/EMT-4338) and Sierra de Guadarrama National Park, which provided the permits for the sampling within the park (ref 10/097831.9/18). Alejandro Carrascosa was supported by a grant for the Promotion of Research in UAM Master studies (UAM 2018– 2019), and Mariola Silvestre by an FPI grant from MINECO
SubjectsAltitudinal gradient; Community-weighted mean; Functional diversity; Mediterranean shrublands; Phenotypic plasticity; Specific leaf area; Stress gradient; Summer drought; Medio Ambiente
Rights© 2023 The Authors
Esta obra está bajo una licencia de Creative Commons Reconocimiento-NoComercial 4.0 Internacional.
Aim: Many aspects of vegetation response to increased drought remain uncertain but it is expected that phenotypic plasticity may be key to early adaptation of plants to environmental stress. In this work we observe the response of specific leaf area (SLA) of woody shrub vegetation to the summer drought typical of the Mediterranean climate. In addition, to observe the possible interaction between the impact of drought and the environmental characteristics of the ecosystems, communities from different edaphic and structural contexts distributed along the double stress gradient of the Mediterranean mountains (high temperature and low precipitation at low elevation; low temperature and high irradiation at high elevation) have been analysed. Location: Central Mountain range of the Iberian Peninsula. Methods: Along the entire altitudinal gradient, 33 shrub communities belonging to different habitat typologies (shrublands, rocky areas, hedgerows, understorey) were sampled before and after the passage of summer, both in 2017 and 2019. A total of 1724 individuals and 15,516 leaves were collected and measured to estimate the mean values and diversity of SLA of each community. Results: The community-weighted mean and functional divergence have inverse quadratic relationships with the environmental gradient. Shrub communities at both ends of the gradient have low mean SLA values and high functional divergence of this trait. Summer drought implies a generalised decrease in the mean SLA of the communities throughout the gradient, as well as an alteration in functional richness and uniformity. However, the effect of summer drought on the plant community is mediated by the microenvironmental characteristics of its habitat. Conclusions: Drought acclimatisation of shrub communities through phenotypic plasticity leads to rapid changes in their functional leaf structure. In the long term, our results point to an increase in plant conservative strategies, reduced ecosystem productivity, slower nutrient recycling and the reduction of communities of specific habitats as drought increases
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Google Scholar:Carrascosa, Alejandro - Silvestre Granda, Mariola - Morgado, Laura - Martín Azcarate, Francisco
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