- Geographic variation and environmental correlates of functional trait distributions in palms (Arecaceae) across the New World
- Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society
- Volume | Issue number
- 179 | 4
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Science (FNWI)
- Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED)
Functional traits play a key role in driving biodiversity effects on ecosystem functioning. Here, we examine the geographical distributions of three key functional traits in New World palms (Arecaceae), an ecologically important plant group, and their relationships with current climate, soil and glacial-interglacial climate change. We combined range maps for the New World (N = 541 palm species) with data on traits (leaf size, stem height and fruit size), representing the leaf-height-seed plant strategy scheme of Westoby, to estimate median trait values for palm species assemblages in 110 × 110-km grid cells. Spatial and non-spatial multi-predictor regressions were used with the Akaike Information Criterion to identify minimum adequate models. Present-day seasonality in temperature and precipitation played a major role in explaining geographical variation of all traits. Mean annual temperature and annual precipitation were additionally important for median leaf size. Glacial-interglacial temperature change was the most important predictor for median fruit size. Large-scale soil gradients played only a minor role overall. These results suggest that current climate (larger median trait values with increasing seasonality) and glacial-interglacial temperature change (larger median fruit size with increasing Quaternary temperature anomaly) are important drivers for functional trait distributions of New World palms.
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