Plant Diversity ›› 2022, Vol. 44 ›› Issue (01): 20-29.DOI: 10.1016/j.pld.2021.11.004

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Elevational patterns of functional diversity and trait of Delphinium (Ranunculaceae) in Hengduan Mountains, China

Li-Shen Qiana,b,c, Hong-Hua Shib,c, Xiao-Kun Oud, Hang Sunc   

  1. a School of Life Sciences, Yunnan University, Kunming, 650091, China;
    b University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100049, China;
    c CAS Key Laboratory for Plant Diversity and Biogeography of East Asia, Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming, 650201, China;
    d School of Ecology and Environmental Science, Yunnan University, Kunming, 650091, China
  • Received:2021-01-18 Revised:2021-11-08 Online:2022-02-25 Published:2022-03-12
  • Contact: Xiao-Kun Ou, Hang Sun
  • Supported by:
    We thank Jiahui Chen for his kind help to provide the data source of functional traits. We thank Lu Sun for his kind help with R. This study was supported by the Second Tibetan Plateau Scientific Expedition and Research (STEP) program (2019QZKK0502), the Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (XDA20050203), and the Key Projects of the Joint Fund of the National Natural Science Foundation of China (U1802232).

Abstract: Elevational patterns of trait occurrence and functional diversity provide an important perspective for understanding biodiversity. However, previous studies have mostly examined functional diversity at the community scale. Here, we examined large-scale patterns of trait occurrence and functional diversity in Delphinium along an elevational gradient from 1000 to 5700 m in the Hengduan Mountains, SW China. Elevational distribution and trait data of 102 Delphinium species were compiled to evaluate the patterns of interspecific traits, species richness, and functional diversity. We found that the distribution of species richness showed a unimodal curve that peaked between 3500 and 4000 m; functional diversity and traits showed different patterns along an elevational gradient. The functional diversity increased at a lower rate along an elevation gradient, whereas species richness continued to increase. Species with large ranges and non-endemic species were most affected by geometric constraints. Richness of species endemic to the Hengduan Mountains peaked at higher elevations, likely due to increased speciation and restricted dispersion under alpine conditions. We conclude that the middle elevation region is not only the functionally richest but also the most functionally stable region for Delphinium, which could be insurance against environmental change. Extreme conditions and strong environmental filters in an alpine environment may cause the convergence of species traits, which could relate to reducing nutrient trait investment and increasing reproductive trait investment. We conclude that large-scale studies are consistent with previous studies at the community scale. This may indicate that the relationship between functional diversity and species richness across different scales is the same.

Key words: Elevational gradients, Species richness, Functional diversity, Hengduan mountains