Staff Publications

Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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Record number 403479
Title Plant functional traits and the distribution of West African rain forest trees along the rainfall gradient
Author(s) Maharjan, S.K.; Poorter, L.; Holmgren, M.; Bongers, F.; Wieringa, J.J.; Hawthorne, W.D.
Source Biotropica 43 (2011)5. - ISSN 0006-3606 - p. 552 - 561.
Department(s) Resource Ecology
Forest Ecology and Forest Management
Publication type Refereed Article in a scientific journal
Publication year 2011
Keyword(s) life-history variation - relative growth-rate - tropical forest - species distributions - shade-tolerance - biomass allocation - soil fertility - canopy trees - woody-plants - seed size
Abstract Plant morphological and physiological traits affect the way plants tolerate environmental stresses and therefore play an important role in shaping species distribution patterns in relation to environmental gradients. Despite our growing knowledge on the role of functional traits in structuring plant communities, few studies have tested their importance at large scales in the wet tropics. Here, we describe the distribution patterns of the most important West African rain forest timber species along the regional rainfall gradient and relate them to their functional traits. We found that the distribution patterns of 25 out of the 31 studied species (80%) were significantly related to mean annual rainfall. Shade tolerance and drought resistance were identified as the main strategy axes of variation. Wood density and leaf deciduousness emerged as the best predictor traits of species position along the rainfall gradient, explaining respectively 32 and 15 percent of the variation. Species traits tended to show stronger relationships with estimated optimum annual rainfall for each species than to the extreme rainfall conditions where they occur. The significant role of rainfall in shaping timber species distribution and the strong relationships between species traits and rainfall indicate that changes in climate, especially declining rainfall, could have strong effects on species composition and abundance in these tropical forests
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