Within- and across-species responses of plant traits and litter decomposition to elevation across contrasting vegetation types in subarctic tundra
2011 (English)In: PLoS ONE, ISSN 1932-6203, E-ISSN 1932-6203, Vol. 6, no 10, e27056- p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Elevational gradients are increasingly recognized as a valuable tool for understanding how community and ecosystem properties respond to climatic factors, but little is known about how plant traits and their effects on ecosystem processes respond to elevation. We studied the response of plant leaf and litter traits, and litter decomposability across a gradient of elevation, and thus temperature, in subarctic tundra in northern Sweden for each of two contrasting vegetation types, heath and meadow, dominated by dwarf shrubs and herbaceous plants respectively. This was done at each of three levels; across species, within individual species, and the plant community using a community weighted average approach. Several leaf and litter traits shifted with increasing elevation in a manner consistent with greater conservation of nutrients at all three levels, and the most consistent response was an increase in tissue N to P ratio. However, litter decomposition was less directly responsive to elevation because the leaf and litter traits which were most responsive to elevation were not necessarily those responsible for driving decomposition. At the community level, the response to elevation of foliar and litter traits, and decomposability, varied greatly among the two vegetation types, highlighting the importance of vegetation type in determining ecological responses to climatic factors such as temperature. Finally our results highlight how understanding the responses of leaf and litter characteristics of functionally distinct vegetation types, and the processes that they drive, to temperature helps provide insights about how future climate change could affect tundra ecosystems.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Plos one , 2011. Vol. 6, no 10, e27056- p.
Ecology Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-52225DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0027056ISI: 000299081800064PubMedID: 22046443OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-52225DiVA: diva2:501332