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Data from: Environmental conditions differently shape leaf, seed and seedling trait composition between and within elevations of tropical montane forests

Cite this dataset

Barczyk, Maciej (2024). Data from: Environmental conditions differently shape leaf, seed and seedling trait composition between and within elevations of tropical montane forests [Dataset]. Dryad. https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.5mkkwh7f6

Abstract

The composition of plant functional traits varies in response to environmental conditions due to processes of community assembly and species sorting. However, there is a lack of understanding of how plant trait composition responds to environmental conditions at different spatial scales and across the plant life cycle. We investigated the trait composition of leaves (specific leaf area), seeds (seed mass) and seedlings (initial seedling height) across elevations and within elevations in relation to soil and light conditions in a tropical montane forest in southern Ecuador. We surveyed traits and communities of adult trees, seeds and seedlings on nine plots at three elevations (1000-3000 m a.s.l.) and calculated community-weighted mean trait values to analyse trait variation across and within elevations. In addition, we measured two environmental factors (soil C/N ratio and canopy openness) to quantify local-scale variation in environmental conditions within elevations. We found that community-weighted means of specific leaf area, seed mass and initial seedling height decreased consistently with increasing elevation. Within elevations, mean trait values of trees, seeds and seedlings responded differently to local-scale environmental conditions. Specific leaf area decreased with increasing soil C/N ratio, and initial seedling height decreased with increasing canopy openness. Seed mass was associated neither with soil nor with light conditions. Our findings show that broad-scale and local-scale processes differently shape the composition of leaf, seed and seedling traits in tropical forests, indicating a scale-dependence in trait-environment associations. Furthermore, plant traits corresponding to different life stages were related differently to environmental conditions within elevations. Community assembly processes may therefore lead to differences in species sorting at early and late plant life stages.

README: Environmental conditions differently shape leaf, seed and seedling trait composition between and within elevations of tropical montane forests

https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.5mkkwh7f6

Description of the data and file structure

Time of data collection: Between August 2019 and July 2020

Geographic location of data collection: Podocarpus National Park and San Francisco Reserve, Ecuador

DATA & FILE OVERVIEW

dataset’s name

"recruitment-census_Ecuador2020_PodocarpusNP_MB_oikos2024.csv": Data on seedling recruitment collected during one year seedling monitoring along an 2000-m elevational gradient in southern Ecuador

elevation: meters about sea level of one of the three elevations (1000, 2000 or 3000 m a.s.l.), where the study plots were situated

plot: plot id (9 plots)

subplot: subplot id (81 recruitment census subplots)

family: taxonomic family of plant species; NA means that no seedlings were found in the subplot

species: scientific name of plant species or morphospecies id for undetermined plant species; NA means that no seedlings were found in the subplot

type: growth type or group of plant functional type assigned by the research project (PFTs are preselected tree species grouped to plant functional types predefined in the RESPECT project); NA means that no seedlings were found in the subplot

plant ID: individual plant ID according to (morpho)species; NA means that no seedlings were found in the subplot

working ID: id of seedling used repetitively in each subplot; NA means that no seedlings were found in the subplot

after 4 months: presence (1) of seedling at the first census; NA means that seedling germinated later or never was recorded

date of 1. check: date of the first census of seedling recruitment, date format: dd/mm/yyyy

height1: seedling height measured at the first census [cm]; NA – no data available; n/a – no seedling was recorded

comments I: additional information on seedling at the first census; n/a – no additional information

after 8 months: presence (1) of seedling at the second census; 0 means that seedling was recorded at the previous census, but not survived till the second census; NA means that seedling germinated later or never was recorded

date of 2. check: date of the second census of seedling recruitment, date format: dd/mm/yyyy

height2: seedling height measured at the second census [cm]; NA – no data available; n/a – no seedling was recorded

comments II: additional information on seedling at the second census; n/a – no additional information

after 12 months: presence (1) of seedling at the third census; 0 means that seedling was recorded at the previous census, but not survived; NA means that seedling never was recorded

date of 3. check: date of the third census of seedling recruitment, date format: dd/mm/yyyy

height3: seedling height measured at the third census [cm]; NA – no data available; n/a – no seedling was recorded

comment III: additional information on seedling at the third census; n/a – no additional information

CANOPY_OPEN: canopy openness [0-100%] at the subplot level; NA – no data available

CANOPY_CLO: canopy closure [0-100%]at the subplot level; NA – no data available

LAI: leaf area index (LAI = leaf area / ground area, m2 / m2); NA – no data available

SM1: soil moisture, volumetric water content in the soil [0-100%] during the dry season (October 2019)

SM2: soil moisture, volumetric water content in the soil [0-100%] during the wet season (May 2020); NA – no data available

height4MON: initial seedling height defined as the height of seedling [cm]; NA – no data available; n/a – no seedling was recorded

DayInt1: time interval between the first and the second census measured in days

DayInt2: time interval between the second and the third census measured in days

DayIntFull: time interval between the first and the third census measured in days

METHODOLOGICAL INFORMATION

See "Methods" section in the original publication for detailed information on data collection. See references for other datasets used for data analysis.

Data on climatic conditions on plot level is included in "Supporting information".

Methods

Seedling recruitment along the elevational gradient (1000, 2000 and 3000 m a.s.l.) in primary forest of Podocarpus National Park and San Francisco Reserve. The data was collected on 81 study subplots in the years 2019 and 2020. The dataset includes height measurements of recruting seedlings.

Funding

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, Award: FOR 2730