Weak phylogenetic and habitat effects on root trait variation of 218 Neotropical tree species - INRAE - Institut national de recherche pour l’agriculture, l’alimentation et l’environnement Access content directly
Journal Articles Frontiers in Forests and Global Change Year : 2023

Weak phylogenetic and habitat effects on root trait variation of 218 Neotropical tree species


Introduction: Tropical forests harbor a large diversity of closely related tree species that can thrive across habitats. This biodiversity has been found to correspond to large functional diversity in aboveground traits, and likely also relates to belowground trait variation. Globally, root trait (co-)variation is driven by different belowground resource strategies of species, environmental variation, and phylogeny; however, these patterns mostly reflect observations from temperate biomes and remain unconfirmed in tropical trees. We examine phylogenetic and environmental effects on root trait (co-)variation of trees across habitats in an Amazonian rainforest. Methods: Roots of 218 tree species from ten dominant families were sampled across three major habitats near Manaus, Brazil. We quantified five morphological and architectural root traits to (i) investigate how they reflected different resource strategies across species, (ii) compare them between families and superorders to test phylogenetic effects, and (iii) compare them between habitats to determine environmental effects on root trait expressions and variability. Results: Root traits discriminated species along a tradeoff between root diameter and root branching and, secondly, due to variation in root tissue density. Our results further show weak phylogenetic effects on tropical tree root variation, for example, families from the same superorder showed large divergence in their root traits, while those from different superorders often overlapped in their root morphology and architecture. Root traits differed significantly between habitats but habitat type had only little effect on overall root trait variation. Discussion: Our work suggests that the dimensions and drivers that underlie (co-)variation in tropical root traits may differ from global patterns defined by mostly temperate datasets. Due to (a)biotic environmental differences, different root trait dimensions may underlie the belowground functional diversity in (Neo)tropical forests, and we found little evidence for the strong phylogenetic conservatism observed in root traits in temperate biomes. We highlight important avenues for future research on tropical roots in order to determine the degree of, and shifts in functional diversity belowground as communities and environments change in tropical forests.
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Dates and versions

hal-04155584 , version 1 (07-07-2023)





Monique Weemstra, Oscar J Valverde-Barrantes, Claire Fortunel, Erick M Oblitas Mendoza, Eduardo M B Prata, et al.. Weak phylogenetic and habitat effects on root trait variation of 218 Neotropical tree species. Frontiers in Forests and Global Change, 2023, 6, ⟨10.3389/ffgc.2023.1187127⟩. ⟨hal-04155584⟩
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