High functional diversity is related to high nitrogen availability in a deciduous forest - evidence from a functional trait approach

Markus Bernhardt-Römermann, Christine Römermann, Valério De Patta Pillar, Thomas Kudernatsch, Anton Fischer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations

Abstract

The current study tested the assumption that floristic and functional diversity patterns are negatively related to soil nitrogen content. We analyzed 20 plots with soil N-contents ranging from 0.63% to 1.06% in a deciduous forest near Munich (Germany). To describe species adaptation strategies to different nitrogen availabilities, we used a plant functional type (PFT) approach. Each identified PFT represents one realized adaptation strategy to the current environment. These were correlated, next to plant species richness and evenness, to soil nitrogen contents. We found that N-efficient species were typical for low soil nitrogen contents, while N-requiring species occur at high N-contents. In contrast to our initial hypotheses, floristic and functional diversity measures (number of PFTs) were positively related to nitrogen content in the soil. Every functional group has its own adaptation to the prevailing environmental conditions; in consequence, these functional groups can co-exist but do not out-compete one another. The increased number of functional groups at high N-contents leads to increased species richness. Hence, for explaining diversity patterns we need to consider species groups representing different adaptations to the current environmental conditions. Such co-existing ecological strategies may even overcome the importance of competition in their effect on biodiversity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-124
Number of pages14
JournalFolia Geobotanica
Volume45
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2010

Keywords

  • Life history traits
  • Nitrogen heterogeneity hypothesis
  • Nitrogen homogeneity hypothesis
  • Plant functional types (PFT)
  • Species evenness
  • Species richness

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