Publication Details

Category Text Publication
Reference Category Preprints
DOI 10.1101/2023.03.08.531739
Licence creative commons licence
Title (Primary) High within-tree leaf trait variation and its response to species diversity and soil nutrients
Author Davrinche, A.; Bittner, A.; Bruelheide, H.; Albert, G.; Harpole, W.S. ORCID logo ; Haider, S.
Source Titel bioRxiv
Year 2023
Department iDiv; PHYDIV
Language englisch
Topic T5 Future Landscapes
  • Leaf functional traits provide important insights into plants’ responses to different environments. Leaf traits have been increasingly studied within-species in the last decade, following the growing realisation that neglecting the intra-specific scale can result in misreading plants’ response to environmental change. However, while likely to lead to similar pitfalls, within-individual leaf traits are under-researched despite being the scale at which elementary interactions shape ecosystem processes.

  • To address this critical lack of understanding at the local scale, we assessed leaf trait variation in a large biodiversity-ecosystem functioning experiment in subtropical China. We used optical spectroscopy to determine nine morphological and biochemical traits of >5800 leaves from 414 trees representing 14 species. We evaluated the relative importance of the intra-individual level for total leaf trait variation, and the interacting effect of two trait variation’s drivers, soil nutrient availability, and a local species richness gradient.

  • Comparing the amount of trait variation at the between-species, between-individuals and intra-individual levels, we found that intra-individual variation accounted on average for >25% of total trait variation. Additionally, intra-individual variation was the most prominent component of intra-specific variation. We found partial support for positive effects of soil nutrient availability and species diversity on intra-individual trait variation, and a strong interdependence of both effects. Contrary to the amplifying effects we expected, trait variation increased with soil nutrient availability at intermediate diversity, but decreased at low and high diversity.

  • Our findings quantify the relevance of intra-individual level for leaf trait variation, and expose a complex interaction between its drivers. In particular, interactive effects of soil nutrient availability and local species diversity on trait variation suggest responses ranging from alleviating competition to enhancing complementarity. Taken together, our work highlights the importance of integrating an intra-individual perspective to understand trait-based mechanisms in biodiversity-ecosystem functioning relationships.

Persistent UFZ Identifier
Davrinche, A., Bittner, A., Bruelheide, H., Albert, G., Harpole, W.S., Haider, S. (2023):
High within-tree leaf trait variation and its response to species diversity and soil nutrients
bioRxiv 10.1101/2023.03.08.531739