Data from: The functional trait space of tree species is influenced by the species richness of the canopy and the type of forest
Benavides, Raquel; Scherer-Lorenzen, Michael; Valladares, Fernando (2020), Data from: The functional trait space of tree species is influenced by the species richness of the canopy and the type of forest, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.5ck2qs1
Analysing how species modify their trait expression along a diversity gradient brings insight about the role that intraspecific variability plays over species interactions, e.g. competition versus complementarity. Here, we evaluated the functional trait space of nine tree species dominant in three types of European forests (a continental-Mediterranean, a mountainous mixed temperate and a boreal) growing in communities with different species richness in the canopy, including pure stands. We compiled whole-plant and leaf traits in 1719 individuals, and used them to quantify species trait hypervolumes in communities with different tree species richness. We investigated changes along the species richness gradient to disentangle species responses to the neighbouring environment, in terms of hypervolume size (trait variance), shape (trait relative importance) and centroid translation (shifts of mean trait values) using null models. Our main results showed differences in trait variance and shifts of mean values along the tree diversity gradient, with shorter trees but with larger crowns in mixed stands. We found constrained functional spaces (trait convergence) in pure stands, suggesting an important intraspecific competition, and expanded functional spaces (trait divergence) in two-species admixtures, suggesting competition release due to interspecific complementarity. Nevertheless, further responses to increasing species richness were different for each forest type, waning species complementarity in sites with limiting conditions for growth. Our results demonstrate that tree species phenotypes respond to the species richness in the canopy in European forests, boosting species complementarity at low level of canopy diversity and with a site-specific pattern at greater level of species richness. These outcomes evidence the limitation of functional diversity measures based only on traits from pure stands or general trait database values.