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Response-effect trait overlap and correlation in riparian plant communities suggests sensitivity of ecosystem functioning and services to environmental change

Portela, Ana Paula, Durance, Isabelle ORCID:, Vieira, Cristiana and Honrado, Joao 2023. Response-effect trait overlap and correlation in riparian plant communities suggests sensitivity of ecosystem functioning and services to environmental change. Science of the Total Environment 860 , 160549. 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.160549

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Environmental changes and biodiversity loss have emphasized the need to understand how communities affect ecosystem functioning and services. In riparian ecosystems, integrative, generalizable, broad-scale models of ecosystem functioning are still required to fulfill this need. However, few studies have explored the links between functional traits, ecosystem functions, and the services of riparian vegetation. Here we adapt the response-effect trait framework to link drivers, traits, ecosystem functions, and services in riparian ecosystems and assess ecosystem functioning sensitivity to environmental changes. The response-effect trait framework distinguishes between traits related to responses to the environment (response traits) and effects on ecosystem functioning (effect traits). The framework predicts that if response and effect traits are tightly linked, shifts in environmental drivers may alter communities' traits and ecosystem functioning. We adapted the response-effect trait framework for riparian plant communities and used it to assess the overlap between response and effect traits. We tested for correlation among traits identified in the framework and for community functional responses to climatic, topographic, soil, and land cover factors using riparian plant communities along a Temperate-Mediterranean climate gradient in North Portugal. We found a high overlap between response and effect traits, with seven out of thirteen traits identified as both response and effect. Additionally, we found trait linkages in four groups of positively correlated community mean traits. Precipitation and aridity were the most predictive drivers of community functional structure, and life form and leaf area were the most responsive traits. Overall, our findings suggest riparian plant communities are likely to propagate the effects of environmental changes to ecosystem functioning and services, affecting several regulation ecosystem services. This work highlights the sensitivity of riparian ecosystems to environmental changes and how it can affect ecosystem services. Similar functional approaches can be useful for adaptive ecosystem management to sustain biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Water Research Institute (WATER)
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0048-9697
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 5 December 2022
Date of Acceptance: 24 November 2022
Last Modified: 06 May 2023 02:21

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