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Intraspecific trait variation and trait-environment relationships are species specific in grasses

Roybal, Carla Maria (2018) Intraspecific trait variation and trait-environment relationships are species specific in grasses. Masters thesis, Northern Arizona University.

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Variation in climate has been demonstrated to be a powerful driver of selection and local adaptation among plant populations. Variation in functional traits among populations can also be indicative of the drivers of local adaptation. However, it is not clear to what extent species exhibit consistent patterns of local adaptation as revealed by common, heritable trait-environment relationships among populations. To address this, we conducted a meta-analysis of common garden studies of grass populations and a greenhouse experiment to quantify the degree of heritability of several commonly measured functional traits, and whether demonstrated heritability was driven by climate. In the meta-analysis, we found that leaf size, specific leaf area (SLA) and total biomass all displayed strong broad-sense heritability. Both leaf area and SLA decreased significantly with increasing temperature seasonality among populations within species, while total biomass increased with increasing annual and dry season precipitation, and decreased with increasing precipitation seasonality. In the greenhouse experiment, we related the measured traits to a number of environmental conditions including temperature, precipitation, vapor pressure deficit and soil moisture. We found a significant amount of variation was explained by population for both above and belowground functional traits and that individual relationships between climate and traits vary by both trait and species. Via model selection, we found that some climate variables, namely mean diurnal range and precipitation of driest quarter, are more consistently better predictors of trait outcomes. Taken together, these results indicate the importance of accounting for intraspecific trait variation, and that characterizing trait-environment relationships must be performed on species-by-species basis. Further information on trait-environment relationships within species could greatly improve our ability to predict broad scale patterns in functional diversity across multiple levels of ecological organization and benefits the fields of restoration, conservation, and global change ecology.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Publisher’s Statement: © Copyright is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the Cline Library, Northern Arizona University. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Keywords: Common garden; Functional trait variation; Intraspecific variation; Poaceae; Grass
Subjects: Q Science > QK Botany
NAU Depositing Author Academic Status: Student
Department/Unit: Graduate College > Theses and Dissertations
College of the Environment, Forestry, and Natural Sciences > Biological Sciences
Date Deposited: 04 Jun 2021 19:21
URI: http://openknowledge.nau.edu/id/eprint/5476

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