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Data from: Warming alters plant phylogenetic and functional community structure

Citation

Zhu, Juntao et al. (2020), Data from: Warming alters plant phylogenetic and functional community structure, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.1zcrjdfpt

Abstract

  1. Climate change is known to affect many facets of the Earth’s ecosystems. However, little is known about its impacts on phylogenetic and functional properties of ecological communities.
  2. Here we studied the responses of plant communities in an alpine grassland on the Tibetan Plateau to environmental warming across taxonomic, phylogenetic, and functional levels in a six-year multiple-level warming experiment.
  3. While low-level warming did not alter either plant species richness or phylogenetic/functional community structure, high-level warming significantly decreased species richness. Higher-level warming more strongly reduced soil moisture and caused stronger environmental filtering, consequently changing species composition and community structure. At the plant functional trait level, high-level warming promoted species turnover through altering the effects of traits such as plant height on species extinction and specific leaf area on species colonization. As a result, high-, but not low-level warming drove phylogenetic/functional community structure from overdispersion to randomness, by filtering out species that were functionally dissimilar and distantly related to the resident species.
  4. Synthesis. Our study provides evidence that the responses of plant phylogenetic and functional community structure to low warming differ from those in the future scenarios of increasing temperature. Importantly, the extinction of species that were functionally dissimilar and distantly related to the resident species contributed to alterations in plant community structure under high warming. Our study underscores the need to incorporate the phylogenetic and functional perspectives to gain a more complete understanding of community responses to climate warming.