Quantifying the importance of functional traits for primary production in aquatic plant communities

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Gustafsson , C M & Norkko , A M 2019 , ' Quantifying the importance of functional traits for primary production in aquatic plant communities ' , Journal of Ecology , vol. 107 , no. 1 , pp. 154-166 . https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2745.13011

Title: Quantifying the importance of functional traits for primary production in aquatic plant communities
Author: Gustafsson, Camilla Maria; Norkko, Alf Mattias
Contributor organization: Tvärminne Zoological Station
Ecosystems and Environment Research Programme
Marine Ecosystems Research Group
Tvärminne Benthic Ecology Team
Date: 2019-01
Language: eng
Number of pages: 13
Belongs to series: Journal of Ecology
ISSN: 0022-0477
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2745.13011
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10138/300423
Abstract: 1. Aquatic plant meadows are important coastal habitats that sustain many ecosystem functions such as primary production and carbon sequestration. Currently, there is a knowledge gap in understanding which plant functional traits, for example, leaf size or plant height underlie primary production in aquatic plant communities. 2. To study how plant traits are related to primary production, we conducted a field survey in the Baltic Sea, Finland, which is characterized by high plant species and functional diversity. Thirty sites along an exposure gradient were sampled (150 plots), and nine plant morphological and chemical traits measured. The aim was to discern how community-weighted mean traits affect community production and whether this relationship changes along an environmental gradient using structural equation modelling (SEM). 3. Plant height had a direct positive effect on production along an exposure gradient (r = 0.33) and indirect effects through two leaf chemical traits, leaf δ15N and leaf δ13C (r = 0.24 and 0.18, respectively) resulting in a total effect of 0.28. In plant communities experiencing varying exposure, traits such as root N concentration and leaf δ15N had positive and negative effects on production, respectively. 4. Synthesis. Our results demonstrate that the relationship between aquatic plant functional traits and community production is variable and changes over environmental gradients. Plant height generally has a positive effect on community production along an exposure gradient, while the link between other traits and production changes in plant communities experiencing varying degrees of exposure. Thus, the underlying biological mechanisms influencing production differ in plant communities, emphasizing the need to resolve variability and its drivers in real-world communities. Importantly, functionally diverse plant communities sustain ecosystem functioning differently and
Zostera marina
ecosystem function
effect trait
environmental gradient
structural equation modelling
1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Peer reviewed: Yes
Rights: cc_by
Usage restriction: openAccess
Self-archived version: publishedVersion

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