The role of climate and plant functional trade-offs in shaping global biome and biodiversity patterns

Reu, Björn, Proulx, Raphaël, Bohn, Kristin, Dyke, James G., Kleidon, Axel, Pavlick, Ryan and Schmidtlein, Sebastian (2010) The role of climate and plant functional trade-offs in shaping global biome and biodiversity patterns Global Ecology and Biogeography, 20, (4), pp. 570-581. (doi:10.1111/j.1466-8238.2010.00621.x).


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Aim: Two of the oldest observations in plant geography are the increase in plant diversity from the poles towards the tropics and the global geographic distribution of vegetation physiognomy (biomes). The objective of this paper is to use a process-based vegetation model to evaluate the relationship between modelled and observed global patterns of plant diversity and the geographic distribution of biomes.

Location: The global terrestrial biosphere.

Methods: We implemented and tested a novel vegetation model aimed at identifying strategies that enable plants to grow and reproduce within particular climatic conditions across the globe. Our model simulates plant survival according to the fundamental ecophysiological processes of water uptake, photosynthesis, reproduction and phenology. We evaluated the survival of an ensemble of 10,000 plant growth strategies across the range of global climatic conditions. For the simulated regional plant assemblages we quantified functional richness, functional diversity and functional identity.

Results: A strong relationship was found (correlation coefficient of 0.75) between the modelled and the observed plant diversity. Our approach demonstrates that plant functional dissimilarity increases and then saturates with increasing plant diversity. Six of the major Earth biomes were reproduced by clustering grid cells according to their functional identity (mean functional traits of a regional plant assemblage). These biome clusters were in fair agreement with two other global vegetation schemes: a satellite image classification and a biogeography model (kappa statistics around 0.4).

Main conclusions: Our model reproduces the observed global patterns of plant diversity and vegetation physiognomy from the number and identity of simulated plant growth strategies. These plant growth strategies emerge from the first principles of climatic constraints and plant functional trade-offs. Our study makes important contributions to furthering the understanding of how climate affects patterns of plant diversity and vegetation physiognomy from a process-based rather than a phenomenological perspective.

Item Type: Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi:10.1111/j.1466-8238.2010.00621.x
ISSNs: 1466-822X (print)
Keywords: biogeography, climate-biodiversity relationship, functional diversity, functional identity, functional richness, pft, plant functional traits, tolerance hypothesis, vegetation model
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
Organisations: Agents, Interactions & Complexity
ePrint ID: 272884
Date :
Date Event
23 December 2010e-pub ahead of print
July 2011Published
Date Deposited: 29 Sep 2011 13:49
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2017 17:38
Further Information:Google Scholar

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