Linking performance trait stability with species distribution: the case of Artemisia and its close relatives in northern China

Yang XJ et al. 2015




理解物种与环境的关系是生态学和生物学研究的基本问题。物种分布依赖于环境条件,对物种分布与性状稳定性间关系的有限认识制约了我们对物种未来分布区变化的预测能力。在理论上,分布范围广的物种(具有较宽的生态位)可能在形态生理性状上具有较大的变异性,从而维持其表现性状上的稳定性,使物种能够在变化的环境条件下存活。因此,文章提出以下假设:物种的生态位宽度应当与其在环境梯度上的表现性状的变化率呈负相关。为了验证这些假设,我们分析了中国北方65个地点的48种蒿属植物的生物量和植株高度变化。我们发现,在生物量(一种表现性状)上,物种的生态位宽度与表现性状沿气候梯度上的变化呈显著负相关,但这种关系在植株高度(被认为既是一种形态性状又是一种表现性状)上不显著。这些研究结果对于气候变化条件下物种风险的评估和物种未知分布区的预测具有重要的理论意义,同时还为物种分布模型(SDM)提供了新的途径。

Abstract
Questions: Understanding the relationships between species and environments is at the heart of ecology and biology. Ranges of species depend strongly on environmental factors, but our limited understanding of the relationships between the range and trait stability of species across environments hampers our ability to predict their future ranges. Species that occur over a wide range (and thus have wide niche breadth) will have high variation in morpho-physiological traits in response to environmental conditions, thereby permitting stability of performance traits and enabling plants to survive in a range of environments. Thus, we hypothesized that species’ niche breadth is negatively correlated with the rate of performance trait change along an environmental gradient.
Location: Northern China
Methods: We analyzed standing biomass and height of 48 species of Asteraceae (Artemisia and its close relatives) collected from 65 sites along an environmental gradient across northern China.
Results: In support of our hypothesis, there were significant negative correlations between climatic niche breadth and rate of change in biomass, a performance trait, but not in height, which is both a morphological and performance trait.
Conclusions: These findings have implications for risk assessment of species under climate change and prediction of unknown distributions of species. They also offer a new avenue of research for species distribution models.