Chin J Plant Ecol ›› 2019, Vol. 43 ›› Issue (3): 208-216.doi: 10.17521/cjpe.2018.0295

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Spatial variations of community functional traits at different successional stages in temperate forests of Changbai Mountains, Northeast China

HAO Shu-Jun,LI Xiao-Yu,HOU Man-Man,ZHAO Xiu-Hai()   

  1. Research Center of Forest Management Engineering of State Forestry and Grassland Administration, Beijing Forestry University, Beijing 10083, China
  • Received:2018-11-28 Revised:2019-03-05 Online:2019-05-30 Published:2019-03-20
  • Contact: ZHAO Xiu-Hai
  • Supported by:
    Supported by the National Key R&D Program of China(2017YFC0504005);The National Natural Science Foundation of China(31670643)


Aims The community assembly mechanisms are among the focal topics in ecological studies. In Changbai Mountains Nature Reserve, there is an intact primary broadleaved-Korean pine forest ecosystem. With increasing loss of species diversity in recent years, study that explores the community assembly mechanisms in this region is particularly important.

Methods This study was conducted in three large permanent plots, each of the size 5.2 hm 2, along suessional stages (secondary poplar and birch mixed forest, PBF; secondary mixed conifer and broad-leaved forest, CBF; and primary Tilia amurensis-Pinus koraiensis mixed forest, TKF) in Changbai Mountains. Six functional traits of major tree species were measured, including leaf area, specific leaf area, leaf thickness, leaf nitrogen content, leaf phosphorus content, and maximum tree height. Changes in the spatial values of community traints were analyzed at different spatial scales (5 m × 5 m, 10 m × 10 m, 20 m × 20 m, 30 m × 30 m, 40 m × 40 m, 50 m × 50 m and 60 m × 60 m). By comparing the observed values with expected values of null models, the community assembly mechanisms in temperate forests of Changbai Mountains were explored.

Important findings Results show that the size of species pool has an important impact on the outcome; in a larger species pool, the environmental filtration has a significant impact. At the plot level and for early and intermediate stages of succession, the observed spatial values of community traits do not significantly differ from the expected values. At the late successional stage, the observed spatial values of community traits were greater than the expected values. The analysis of multiple community functional diversity indices shows that the combined processes of habitat filtring and competitive exclusion are the main determinants of the species composition of the climax community in this region. In the early successional stage, large numbers of species are immigrated, and there are strong resource competitions among the species within a community. With progressing succession, some species are excluded, species maintained in the community show significant niche differentiations, and competition is the main mechanism species coexistence.

Key words: community assembly, functional trait, trait space, spatial scale

Fig. 1

Location of secondary poplar and birch mixed forest (PBF), secondary mixed conifer and broad-leaved forest (CBF), primary Tilia amurensis-Pinus koraiensis mixed forest (TKF) in Changbai Mountains."

Table 1

Summary of permanent forest plots in Changbai Mountains"

Forest type
Plot area (hm2)
Longitude & latitude
Average elevation (m)
Species number
Total basal area (m2)
次生杨桦林 PBF 5.2 (260 m × 200 m) 42.32° N, 128.13° E 893 69 24.74
次生针阔混交林 CBF 5.2 (260 m × 200 m) 42.35° N, 128.13° E 810 66 32.07
原始椴树红松林 TKF 5.2 (260 m × 200 m) 42.23° N, 128.08° E 1 023 22 56.64

Table 2

Functional traits and ecological meaning"

功能性状 Functional trait 单位 Unit 生态学意义 Ecological meaning
Leaf area
mm2 代表叶片对光的捕获能力, 与环境胁迫和干扰下的生态策略有关
Represents the ability to capture light; linked to ecological strategy with respect to environmental
stress and disturbances
Specific leaf area
mm2·mg-1 与叶片光合能力正相关, 与叶片寿命负相关
Positively related to photosynthetic rate and negatively to leaf longevity
叶片厚度 Leaf thickness mm 代表植物抗干扰和高投入的能力 Represents the ability to defy changes and high investment
Leaf nitrogen concentration
mg·g-1 与光合作用蛋白和最大光合速率有关
Related to the proteins in photosynthetic machinery and maximum photosynthetic rate
Leaf phosphorus concentration
mg·g-1 与植物最大光合速率以及营养级质量有关
Related to maximum photosynthetic rate and high nutritional quality in food webs
Maximum tree height
m 代表植株在光垂直梯度所处的位置及竞争能力
Associated with position of the species in the vertical light gradient of plants and competitiveness

Fig. 2

The weighted average (CWM) of individual functional traits at different successional stages in temperate forests of Changbai Mountains. PBF, secondary poplar and birch mixed forest; CBF, secondary mixed conifer and broad-leaved forest; TKF, primary Tilia amurensis-Pinus koraiensis mixed forest. The box plots show the results of repeated sampling for 20 times. The black triangle is values at plot level; different lowercase letters designate the results of multiple comparisons, and it indicate significant difference (p < 0.05)."

Fig. 3

Trends in functional diversity at different successional stages in temperate forests of Changbai Mountains. PBF, secondary poplar and birch mixed forest; CBF, secondary mixed conifer and broad-leaved forest; TKF, primary Tilia amurensis-Pinus koraiensis mixed forest. FEve, functional uniformity; FDiv, functional divergence; FDis, functional dispersion; RaoQ, functional entropy index. The box plots show the results of repeated sampling for 20 times. The black triangle is the value at plot level; different lowercase letters show the results of multiple comparisons, and it indicate significant difference (p < 0.05)."

Fig. 4

Changes in the spatial value of community traits at different succession stages with spatial scale in temperate forests of Changbai Mountains. A, D, Secondary poplar forest. B, E, Secondary coniferous and broad-leaved mixed forest. C, F, Primary Tilia amurensis-Pinus koraiensis mixed forest. A, B, C, Species pool 1. D, E, F, Species pool 2. SES, standardized effect size. ***, p < 0.01, it indicates that there is a significant difference between the eigenspace observations and the zero model simulation values."

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