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25 February 2017, Volume 39 Issue 01
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  • Review
    Trait-based representation of hydrological functional properties of plants in weather and ecosystem models
    Ashley M. Matheny, Golnazalsadat Mirfenderesgi, Gil Bohrer
    2017, 39(01):  1-12.  doi:10.1016/j.pld.2016.10.001
    Abstract ( 14 )   HTML ( )   PDF (666KB) ( 1 )   Save
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    Land surface models and dynamic global vegetation models typically represent vegetation through coarse plant functional type groupings based on leaf form, phenology, and bioclimatic limits. Although these groupings were both feasible and functional for early model generations, in light of the pace at which our knowledge of functional ecology, ecosystem demographics, and vegetation-climate feedbacks has advanced and the ever growing demand for enhanced model performance, these groupings have become antiquated and are identified as a key source of model uncertainty. The newest wave of model development is centered on shifting the vegetation paradigm away from plant functional types (PFTs) and towards flexible trait-based representations. These models seek to improve errors in ecosystem fluxes that result from information loss due to over-aggregation of dissimilar species into the same functional class. We advocate the importance of the inclusion of plant hydraulic trait representation within the new paradigm through a framework of the whole-plant hydraulic strategy. Plant hydraulic strategy is known to play a critical role in the regulation of stomatal conductance and thus transpiration and latent heat flux. It is typical that coexisting plants employ opposing hydraulic strategies, and therefore have disparate patterns of water acquisition and use. Hydraulic traits are deterministic of drought resilience, response to disturbance, and other demographic processes. The addition of plant hydraulic properties in models may not only improve the simulation of carbon and water fluxes but also vegetation population distributions.
    Articles
    Landscape genetics reveals inbreeding and genetic bottlenecks in the extremely rare short-globose cacti Mammillaria pectinifera (Cactaceae) as a result of habitat fragmentation
    Reyna Maya-García, Santiago Arizaga, Pablo Cuevas-Reyes, Juan Manuel Pe?aloza-Ramírez, Víctor Rocha Ramírez, Ken Oyama
    2017, 39(01):  13-19.  doi:10.1016/j.pld.2016.09.005
    Abstract ( 9 )   HTML ( )   PDF (3212KB) ( 0 )   Save
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    Mammillaria pectinifera is an endemic, short-globose cactus species, included in the IUCN list as a threatened species with only 18 remaining populations in the Tehuacán-Cuicatlán Valley in central Mexico. We evaluated the population genetic diversity and structure, connectivity, recent bottlenecks and population size, using nuclear microsatellites. M. pectinifera showed high genetic diversity but some evidence of heterozygote deficiency (F), recent bottlenecks in some populations and reductions in population size. Also, we found low population genetic differentiation and high values of connectivity for M. pectinifera, as the result of historical events of gene flow through pollen and seed dispersal. M. pectinifera occurs in sites with some degree of disturbance leading to the isolation of its populations and decreasing the levels of gene flow among them. Excessive deforestation also changes the original vegetation damaging the natural habitats. This species will become extinct if it is not properly preserved. Furthermore, this species has some ecological features that make them more vulnerable to disturbance such as a very low growth rates and long life cycles. We suggest in situ conservation to prevent the decrease of population sizes and loss of genetic diversity in the natural protected areas such as the Tehuacán-Cuicatlán Biosphere Reserve. In addition, a long-term ex situ conservation program is need to construct seed banks, and optimize seed germination and plant establishment protocols that restore disturbed habitats. Furthermore, creating a supply of living plants for trade is critical to avoid further extraction of plants from nature.
    Rainforests north of the Tropic of Cancer: Physiognomy, floristics and diversity in ‘lowland rainforests’ of Meghalaya, India
    Uma Shankar, Amit Kumar Tripathi
    2017, 39(01):  20-36.  doi:10.1016/j.pld.2016.10.003
    Abstract ( 9 )   HTML ( )   PDF (4828KB) ( 0 )   Save
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    The lowland rainforests of Meghalaya, India represent the westernmost limit of the rainforests north of the Tropic of Cancer. These forests, on the Shillong plateau, are akin to Whitmore's ‘tropical lowland evergreen rainforest’ formation and exhibit striking similarities and conspicuous differences with the equatorial rainforests in Asia-Pacific as well as tropical seasonal rainforests in southwestern China near the Tropic of Cancer. We found these common attributes of the rainforests in Meghalaya: familial composition with predominance of Euphorbiaceae, Lauraceae, Meliaceae, Moraceae, Myrsiticaceae, Myrtaceae and Rubiaceae; deciduousness in evergreen physiognomy; dominance of mega- and mesophanerophytic life-forms; abundance of species with low frequency of occurrence (rare and aggregated species); low proportional abundance of the abundant species; and truncated lognormal abundance distribution. The levels of stand density and stand basal area were comparable with seasonal rainforests in southwestern China, but were lower than equatorial rainforests. Tropical Asian species predominated flora, commanding 95% of the abundance. The differences include overall low stature (height) of the forest, inconspicuous stratification in canopy, fewer species and individuals of liana, thicker understory, higher proportion of rare species, absence of locally endemic species and relatively greater dominance of Fagaceae and Theaceae. The richness of species per hectare (S) was considerably lower at higher latitudes in Meghalaya than in equatorial rainforests, but was comparable with seasonal rainforests. Shannon's diversity index (H' = 4.40 nats for ≥10 cm gbh and 4.25 nats for ≥30 cm gbh) was lower on higher latitudes in Meghalaya in comparison to species-rich equatorial rainforests, but it was the highest among all lowland rainforests near the Tropic of Cancer.
    Phylogenetic pattern of alpine plants along latitude and longitude in Hengduan Mountains Region
    Xinhui Li, Hang Sun
    2017, 39(01):  37-43.  doi:10.1016/j.pld.2016.11.007
    Abstract ( 9 )   HTML ( )   PDF (4033KB) ( 0 )   Save
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    To detect the horizontal pattern of phylogenetic structure shown by alpine plants, we measured phylogenetic structure using net related index (NRI) and net nearest taxon index (NTI), and analyzed the phylogenetic structure patterns of alpine plants along longitude, latitude and environmental gradients in the Hengduan Mountains Region (HDMR). Our results show that: 1) the phylogenetic structure tended to cluster with increasing latitude and longitude; 2) for NRI, latitude was closer related than longitude, while for NTI, longitude was closer related than latitude, though they both not significantly relate to NTI. The phylogenetic structure tended towards overdispersion in the southern HDMR, with good climate conditions of higher mean annual temperature and more mean annual precipitation. In contrast, with harsh climate conditions of lower mean annual temperature and less mean annual precipitation, the increasing environmental stress led to phylogenetic clustering in the northern HDMR. The results highlighted that in the alpine region of HDMR, environmental filters and geographical isolation had a great effect on the latitudinal and longitudinal alpine species distribution, respectively.
    Genetic structure and demographic history of Cycas chenii (Cycadaceae), an endangered species with extremely small populations
    Rui Yang, Xiuyan Feng, Xun Gong
    2017, 39(01):  44-51.  doi:10.1016/j.pld.2016.11.003
    Abstract ( 14 )   HTML ( )   PDF (4073KB) ( 0 )   Save
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    Geological activities and climate oscillations during the Quaternary period profoundly impacted the distribution of species in Southwest China. Some plant species may be harbored in refugia, such as the dry-hot valleys of Southwest China. Cycas chenii X. Gong & W. Zhou, a critically endangered cycad species, which grows under the canopy in subtropical evergreen broad-leaved forests along the upstream drainage area of the Red River, is endemic to this refugium. In this study, 60 individuals of C. chenii collected from six populations were analyzed by sequencing two chloroplast intergenic spacers (cpDNA: psbA-trnH and trnL-trnF) and two nuclear genes (PHYP and RBP-1). Results showed high genetic diversity at the species level, but low within-population genetic diversity and high interpopulation genetic differentiation. A Bayesian phylogenetic tree based on cpDNA showed that five chloroplast haplotypes were clustered into two clades, which corresponds to the division of the western and eastern bank of the Red River. These data indicate a possible role for the Red River as a geographic barrier to gene flow in C. chenii. Based on our findings, we propose appropriate in situ and ex situ conservation strategies for C. chenii.
    Floral characteristics and pollination ecology of Manglietia ventii (Magnoliaceae), a plant species with extremely small populations (PSESP) endemic to South Yunnan of China
    Bin Wang, Gao Chen, Congren Li, Weibang Sun
    2017, 39(01):  52-59.  doi:10.1016/j.pld.2017.01.001
    Abstract ( 9 )   HTML ( )   PDF (13982KB) ( 0 )   Save
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    Manglietia ventii is a highly endangered plant species endemic to Yunnan province in China, where there are only five known small populations. Despite abundant flowering there is very low fruit and seed set, and very few seedlings in natural populations, indicating problems with reproduction. The causes of low fecundity in M. ventii are not known, largely because of insufficient knowledge of the species pollination ecology and breeding system. We conducted observations and pollination experiments, and analyzed floral scents to understand the pollinator–plant interactions and the role of floral scent in this relationship, as well as the species breeding system. Like the majority of Magnoliaceae, M. ventii has protogynous and nocturnal flowers that emit a strong fragrance over two consecutive evenings. There is a closing period (the pre-staminate stage) during the process of anthesis of a flower, and we characterize the key flowering process as an “open-close-reopen” flowering rhythm with five distinct floral stages observed throughout the floral period of this species: pre-pistillate, pistillate, pre-staminate, staminate, and post-staminate. Flowers are in the pistillate stage during the first night of anthesis and enter the staminate stage the next night. During anthesis, floral scent emission occurs in the pistillate and staminate stages. The effective pollinators were weevils (Sitophilus sp.) and beetles (Anomala sp.), while the role of Rove beetles (Aleochara sp.) and thrips (Thrips sp.) in pollination of M. ventii appears to be minor or absent. The major chemical compounds of the floral scents were Limonene, β-Pinene, α-Pinene, 1,8-Cineole, Methyl-2-methylbutyrate, p-Cymene, Methyl-3-methyl-2-butenoate and 2-Methoxy-2-methyl-3-buten, and the relative proportions of these compounds varied between the pistillate and staminate stages. Production of these chemicals coincided with flower visitation by weevils and beetles. The results of pollination experiments suggest that M. ventii is pollinator-dependent, and low seed set in natural populations is a result of insufficient pollen deposition. Thus, conservation of the species should focus on improving pollination service through the introduction of genetically variable individuals and increase in density of reproducing trees.
    Levels of rhizome endophytic fungi fluctuate in Paris polyphylla var. yunnanensis as plants age
    Tao Liu, Alex Greenslade, Shengchao Yang
    2017, 39(01):  60-64.  doi:10.1016/j.pld.2016.11.006
    Abstract ( 3 )   HTML ( )   PDF (605KB) ( 11 )   Save
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    Paris polyphylla var. yunnanensis is an important medicinal plant with abundant saponins that are widely used in the pharmaceuticals industry. It is unclear why the levels of active ingredients increase as these plants age. We speculated that the concentrations of those components in the rhizomes are mediated by fungal endophytes. To test this hypothesis, we took both culture-dependent and -independent (metagenomics) approaches to analyze the communities of endophytic fungi that inhabit those rhizomes in plants of different age classes (four, six, and eight years old). In all, 147 isolates representing 18 fungal taxa were obtained from 270 segments (90 per age class). Based on morphological and genetic characteristics, Fusarium oxysporum (46.55% frequency of occurrence) was the predominant endophyte, followed by Leptodontidium sp. (8.66%) and Trichoderma viride (6.81%). Colonization of endophytic fungi was maximized in the eight-year-old rhizomes (33.33%) when compared with four-year-old (21.21%) and six-year-old (15.15%) rhizomes. Certain fungal species were present only at particular ages. For example, Alternaria sp., Cylindrocarpon sp., Chaetomium sp., Paraphaeosphaeria sporulosa, Pyrenochaeta sp., Penicillium swiecickii, T. viride, and Truncatella angustata were found only in the oldest plants. Analysis of (metagenomics) community DNA extracted from different-aged samples revealed that, at the class level, the majority of fungi had the highest sequence similarity to members of Sordariomycetes, followed by Eurotiomycetes and Saccharomycetes. These results were mostly in accord with those we obtained using culture methods. Fungal diversity and richness also changed over time. Our investigation is the first to show that the diversity of fungi in rhizomes of P. polyphylla var. yunnanensis is altered as plants age, and our findings provide a foundation for future examinations of useful compounds.