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  1. Quaternary climate change reduced and homogenized angiosperm tree diversity across large landscapes worldwide. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 5, 2024
  2. Abstract Background and Aims The acquisitive–conservative axis of plant ecological strategies results in a pattern of leaf trait covariation that captures the balance between leaf construction costs and plant growth potential. Studies evaluating trait covariation within species are scarcer, and have mostly dealt with variation in response to environmental gradients. Little work has been published on intraspecific patterns of leaf trait covariation in the absence of strong environmental variation. Methods We analysed covariation of four leaf functional traits [specific leaf area (SLA) leaf dry matter content (LDMC), force to tear (Ft) and leaf nitrogen content (Nm)] in six Poaceae and four Fabaceae species common in the dry Chaco forest of Central Argentina, growing in the field and in a common garden. We compared intraspecific covariation patterns (slopes, correlation and effect size) of leaf functional traits with global interspecific covariation patterns. Additionally, we checked for possible climatic and edaphic factors that could affect the intraspecific covariation pattern. Key Results We found negative correlations for the LDMC–SLA, Ft–SLA, LDMC–Nm and Ft–Nm trait pairs. This intraspecific covariation pattern found both in the field and in the common garden and not explained by climatic or edaphic variation in the field follows the expected acquisitive–conservative axis. At the same time, we found quantitative differences in slopes among different species, and between these intraspecific patterns and the interspecific ones. Many of these differences seem to be idiosyncratic, but some appear consistent among species (e.g. all the intraspecific LDMC–SLA and LDMC–Nm slopes tend to be shallower than the global pattern). Conclusions Our study indicates that the acquisitive–conservative leaf functional trait covariation pattern occurs at the intraspecific level even in the absence of relevant environmental variation in the field. This suggests a high degree of variation–covariation in leaf functional traits not driven by environmental variables. 
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  4. Safeguarding Earth’s tree diversity is a conservation priority due to the importance of trees for biodiversity and ecosystem functions and services such as carbon sequestration. Here, we improve the foundation for effective conservation of global tree diversity by analyzing a recently developed database of tree species covering 46,752 species. We quantify range protection and anthropogenic pressures for each species and develop conservation priorities across taxonomic, phylogenetic, and functional diversity dimensions. We also assess the effectiveness of several influential proposed conservation prioritization frameworks to protect the top 17% and top 50% of tree priority areas. We find that an average of 50.2% of a tree species’ range occurs in 110-km grid cells without any protected areas (PAs), with 6,377 small-range tree species fully unprotected, and that 83% of tree species experience nonnegligible human pressure across their range on average. Protecting high-priority areas for the top 17% and 50% priority thresholds would increase the average protected proportion of each tree species’ range to 65.5% and 82.6%, respectively, leaving many fewer species (2,151 and 2,010) completely unprotected. The priority areas identified for trees match well to the Global 200 Ecoregions framework, revealing that priority areas for trees would in large part also optimize protection for terrestrial biodiversity overall. Based on range estimates for >46,000 tree species, our findings show that a large proportion of tree species receive limited protection by current PAs and are under substantial human pressure. Improved protection of biodiversity overall would also strongly benefit global tree diversity. 
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  5. Abstract Here we provide the ‘Global Spectrum of Plant Form and Function Dataset’, containing species mean values for six vascular plant traits. Together, these traits –plant height, stem specific density, leaf area, leaf mass per area, leaf nitrogen content per dry mass, and diaspore (seed or spore) mass – define the primary axes of variation in plant form and function. The dataset is based on ca. 1 million trait records received via the TRY database (representing ca. 2,500 original publications) and additional unpublished data. It provides 92,159 species mean values for the six traits, covering 46,047 species. The data are complemented by higher-level taxonomic classification and six categorical traits (woodiness, growth form, succulence, adaptation to terrestrial or aquatic habitats, nutrition type and leaf type). Data quality management is based on a probabilistic approach combined with comprehensive validation against expert knowledge and external information. Intense data acquisition and thorough quality control produced the largest and, to our knowledge, most accurate compilation of empirically observed vascular plant species mean traits to date. 
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