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Habitat adaptation mediates the influence of leaf traits on canopy productivity: evidence from a tropical freshwater swamp forest

Habitat adaptation mediates the influence of leaf traits on canopy productivity: evidence from a tropical freshwater swamp forest
Habitat adaptation mediates the influence of leaf traits on canopy productivity: evidence from a tropical freshwater swamp forest
Functional traits offer generalizability to the prediction of ecosystem processes such as production, and community-weighted mean trait values are increasingly used for such predictions. However, the underlying causal direction between traits and ecosystem processes are often indirect and sometimes even tenuous. In this study, we aimed to uncover underlying causal mechanisms between traits, habitat adaptation and canopy productivity. We used canopy production data estimated from leaf litter traps, and trait and habitat association data obtained from 40 permanent vegetation plots in the Nee Soon catchment in Singapore, which contains a heterogeneous mix of freshwater swamp and dry-land tropical forests. Mean canopy production across the catchment was estimated to be 768 g m−2 year−1, which is similar to other tropical dry-land forests in the region. Fortnightly per-basal-area canopy production was found to be consistently lower in swamp than non-swamp plots, and positively correlated with monthly mean temperature. Structural equation models fitted to data of canopy production, leaf traits, plot type (swamp versus non-swamp), basal areas and habitat adaptations of 69 tree species– plot combinations suggested that tree species possessing leaf traits associated with more conservative resource acquisition strategies, viz., low specific leaf area, high leaf C:N ratio, and thicker leaves, are better adapted to stressful, waterlogged swamp conditions, but that this adaptation also reduces canopy—and likely total—net primary productivity. These observations suggest that the stressful conditions of waterlogged, anoxic swamp habitats significantly reduce the rate at which nutrients are cycled by communities found in such environments.
Functional traits, Litterfall, Peat, Primary productivity, Southeast Asia, Waterlogged soil
1432-9840
Lam, Weng Ngai
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Chan, Pin Jia
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Ting, Ying Ying
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Sim, Hong Jhun
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Lian, Jun Jie
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Chong, Rie
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Tan, Lorraine Wen Ai
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Rahman, Nur Estya
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Ho, Qian Yi
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Chiam, Zhongyu
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Arora, Srishti
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Ramchunder, Sorain J.
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Peh, Kelvin S.-H.
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Cai, Yixiong
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Lai, Hao Ran
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Chong, Kwek Yan
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Lam, Weng Ngai
05561d89-5ebf-48d9-a992-833b5807271a
Chan, Pin Jia
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Ting, Ying Ying
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Sim, Hong Jhun
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Lian, Jun Jie
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Chong, Rie
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Tan, Lorraine Wen Ai
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Rahman, Nur Estya
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Ho, Qian Yi
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Chiam, Zhongyu
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Arora, Srishti
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Ramchunder, Sorain J.
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Peh, Kelvin S.-H.
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Cai, Yixiong
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Lai, Hao Ran
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Chong, Kwek Yan
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Lam, Weng Ngai, Chan, Pin Jia, Ting, Ying Ying, Sim, Hong Jhun, Lian, Jun Jie, Chong, Rie, Tan, Lorraine Wen Ai, Rahman, Nur Estya, Ho, Qian Yi, Chiam, Zhongyu, Arora, Srishti, Ramchunder, Sorain J., Peh, Kelvin S.-H., Cai, Yixiong, Lai, Hao Ran and Chong, Kwek Yan (2021) Habitat adaptation mediates the influence of leaf traits on canopy productivity: evidence from a tropical freshwater swamp forest. Ecosystems. (doi:10.1007/s10021-021-00697-7).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Functional traits offer generalizability to the prediction of ecosystem processes such as production, and community-weighted mean trait values are increasingly used for such predictions. However, the underlying causal direction between traits and ecosystem processes are often indirect and sometimes even tenuous. In this study, we aimed to uncover underlying causal mechanisms between traits, habitat adaptation and canopy productivity. We used canopy production data estimated from leaf litter traps, and trait and habitat association data obtained from 40 permanent vegetation plots in the Nee Soon catchment in Singapore, which contains a heterogeneous mix of freshwater swamp and dry-land tropical forests. Mean canopy production across the catchment was estimated to be 768 g m−2 year−1, which is similar to other tropical dry-land forests in the region. Fortnightly per-basal-area canopy production was found to be consistently lower in swamp than non-swamp plots, and positively correlated with monthly mean temperature. Structural equation models fitted to data of canopy production, leaf traits, plot type (swamp versus non-swamp), basal areas and habitat adaptations of 69 tree species– plot combinations suggested that tree species possessing leaf traits associated with more conservative resource acquisition strategies, viz., low specific leaf area, high leaf C:N ratio, and thicker leaves, are better adapted to stressful, waterlogged swamp conditions, but that this adaptation also reduces canopy—and likely total—net primary productivity. These observations suggest that the stressful conditions of waterlogged, anoxic swamp habitats significantly reduce the rate at which nutrients are cycled by communities found in such environments.

Text
Lam et al. - Ecosystems - Accepted version - Accepted Manuscript
Restricted to Repository staff only until 12 August 2022.
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More information

Submitted date: 16 June 2021
Accepted/In Press date: 12 August 2021
e-pub ahead of print date: 13 September 2021
Keywords: Functional traits, Litterfall, Peat, Primary productivity, Southeast Asia, Waterlogged soil

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 451090
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/451090
ISSN: 1432-9840
PURE UUID: 13762a3c-1f6f-4035-af09-4e7540c0668e
ORCID for Kelvin S.-H. Peh: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-2921-1341

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 07 Sep 2021 16:32
Last modified: 26 Nov 2021 02:59

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Contributors

Author: Weng Ngai Lam
Author: Pin Jia Chan
Author: Ying Ying Ting
Author: Hong Jhun Sim
Author: Jun Jie Lian
Author: Rie Chong
Author: Lorraine Wen Ai Tan
Author: Nur Estya Rahman
Author: Qian Yi Ho
Author: Zhongyu Chiam
Author: Srishti Arora
Author: Sorain J. Ramchunder
Author: Yixiong Cai
Author: Hao Ran Lai
Author: Kwek Yan Chong

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