Plant functional groups based on vegetative and reproductive traits in a subtropical forest community

Haiyang Wang, Hong Chen
2013 Journal of Forest Research  
Plant functional types (PFTs) are essential for us to research on community structure and dynamics. A proper criterion for assessing PFTs in a broad-leaved community is yet to be established, and the reports for correlations between PFTs and plant succession are still rare. The current study aimed to: (1) detect which functional trait(s) of woody species would best characterize PFTs in a forest community, and (2) explore general trends of functional traits with plant succession. We sampled
more » ... -bearing twigs of 55 woody species in a subtropical forest in southwest China, and recorded two sets of sizes of functional traits including both vegetative and reproductive organs. A principal components analysis (PCA) was performed on the functional traits studied, and the functional types were grouped out with K-means clustering. Next, the relationship between PFTs and species succession status was examined. The PCA revealed that of all the functional traits studied, twig sizes may exert a greatest impact on the traits assemblages and PFTs' performances in this community, i.e., twig size may act as an important determinant for PFTs at the species level. The 55 woody species were classified into three distinct PFTs whose sizes tended to increase with the advance of species succession. Twig size tended to combine with leaf size, and so was the fruit size with seed size.
doi:10.1007/s10310-012-0376-8 fatcat:cuebhaokafcjtekz4f3howemyu