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      A plant economics spectrum of litter decomposability : Afterlife effects of the plant economics spectrum

      , ,
      Functional Ecology
      Wiley-Blackwell

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          Most cited references43

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          Towards a worldwide wood economics spectrum.

          Wood performs several essential functions in plants, including mechanically supporting aboveground tissue, storing water and other resources, and transporting sap. Woody tissues are likely to face physiological, structural and defensive trade-offs. How a plant optimizes among these competing functions can have major ecological implications, which have been under-appreciated by ecologists compared to the focus they have given to leaf function. To draw together our current understanding of wood function, we identify and collate data on the major wood functional traits, including the largest wood density database to date (8412 taxa), mechanical strength measures and anatomical features, as well as clade-specific features such as secondary chemistry. We then show how wood traits are related to one another, highlighting functional trade-offs, and to ecological and demographic plant features (growth form, growth rate, latitude, ecological setting). We suggest that, similar to the manifold that tree species leaf traits cluster around the 'leaf economics spectrum', a similar 'wood economics spectrum' may be defined. We then discuss the biogeography, evolution and biogeochemistry of the spectrum, and conclude by pointing out the major gaps in our current knowledge of wood functional traits.
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            From tropics to tundra: global convergence in plant functioning.

            Despite striking differences in climate, soils, and evolutionary history among diverse biomes ranging from tropical and temperate forests to alpine tundra and desert, we found similar interspecific relationships among leaf structure and function and plant growth in all biomes. Our results thus demonstrate convergent evolution and global generality in plant functioning, despite the enormous diversity of plant species and biomes. For 280 plant species from two global data sets, we found that potential carbon gain (photosynthesis) and carbon loss (respiration) increase in similar proportion with decreasing leaf life-span, increasing leaf nitrogen concentration, and increasing leaf surface area-to-mass ratio. Productivity of individual plants and of leaves in vegetation canopies also changes in constant proportion to leaf life-span and surface area-to-mass ratio. These global plant functional relationships have significant implications for global scale modeling of vegetation-atmosphere CO2 exchange.
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              Plant species traits are the predominant control on litter decomposition rates within biomes worldwide.

              Worldwide decomposition rates depend both on climate and the legacy of plant functional traits as litter quality. To quantify the degree to which functional differentiation among species affects their litter decomposition rates, we brought together leaf trait and litter mass loss data for 818 species from 66 decomposition experiments on six continents. We show that: (i) the magnitude of species-driven differences is much larger than previously thought and greater than climate-driven variation; (ii) the decomposability of a species' litter is consistently correlated with that species' ecological strategy within different ecosystems globally, representing a new connection between whole plant carbon strategy and biogeochemical cycling. This connection between plant strategies and decomposability is crucial for both understanding vegetation-soil feedbacks, and for improving forecasts of the global carbon cycle.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Functional Ecology
                Wiley-Blackwell
                02698463
                February 2012
                February 2012
                : 26
                : 1
                : 56-65
                Article
                10.1111/j.1365-2435.2011.01913.x
                76b4d198-b523-4991-a01b-681dcec4e67f
                © 2012

                http://doi.wiley.com/10.1002/tdm_license_1.1

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