Trait divergence and habitat specialization in tropical floodplain forests trees

Gisele Biem Mori*, Juliana Schietti, Lourens Poorter, Maria Teresa Fernandez Piedade

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Habitat heterogeneity of tropical forests is thought to lead to specialization in plants and contribute to the high diversity of tree species in Amazonia. One prediction of habitat specialization is that species specialized for resource-rich habitats will have traits associated with high resource acquisition and fast growth while species specialized for resource-poor habitats will have traits associated with high resource conservation and persistence but slow growth. We tested this idea for seven genera and for twelve families from nutrient-rich white-water floodplain forest (várzea) and nutrient-poor black-water (igapó) floodplain forest. We measured 11 traits that are important for the carbon and nutrient balance of the trees, and compared trait variation between habitat types (white- and black-water forests), and the effect of habitat and genus/family on trait divergence. Functional traits of congeneric species differed between habitat types, where white-water forest species invested in resource acquisition and productive tissues, whereas black-water forest species invested in resource conservation and persistent tissues. Habitat specialization is leading to the differentiation of floodplain tree species of white-water and black-water forests, thus contributing to a high diversity of plant species in floodplain forests.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0212232
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume14
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2019

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