Chin J Plan Ecolo ›› 2017, Vol. 41 ›› Issue (11): 1157-1167.DOI: 10.17521/cjpe.2017.0211

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Exploring the community assembly of subalpine meadow communities based on functional traits and community phylogeny

Ying-Di CHE, Min-Xia LIU*(), Li-Rong LI, Jiao JIAO, Wei XIAO   

  1. College of Geography and Environment Science, Northwest Normal University, Lanzhou 730070, China
  • Received:2017-08-10 Accepted:2017-09-29 Online:2017-11-10 Published:2017-11-10
  • Contact: Min-Xia LIU

Abstract:

Aims The community assembly has been a prominent issue in community ecology. This work was intended to explore the mechanisms of the species coexistence and biodiversity in communities. Our objective was to explore the mechanisms of community assembly in subalpine meadow plant communities along slope gradients in Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Gansu Province, Northwest China.
Methods We selected five slope-oriented plots to construct a super-tree representing the species pool. We surveyed the leaf functional traits and soil environmental factors in different slopes. Then we tested the phylogenetic signal of leaf dry matter content (LDMC), specific leaf area (SLA), leaf nitrogen content (LNC) and leaf phosphorus content (LPC).
Important findings The changes of slope aspect had significant influence on soil water content (SWC) and soil nutrient content. Most of the plants leaf functional traits had significant difference along different slope aspects. The LDMC was higher in south and southwest slope than north slope, while SLA, LNC and LPC were relatively high in north and northwest slope. The LPC showed feeble phylogenetic signal, while LDMC, SLA, LNC did not have a significant phylogenetic signal. With changes in the slope aspect from south to north, community phylogenetic structure shifted from over-dispersion to clustered dispersion. In south and southwest slope, habitat filtering was the driving force for community assembly. Interspecific competition was the main driving factor for community assembly in north and northwest slope aspects. But in west slope, two indices showed contrary consequence. This means the process of community assembly in west slope was more complicated and its phylogenetic index may be the result of several mechanisms working together.

Key words: community assembly, phylogenetic, functional traits, slope aspect, subalpine meadow