Data from: Temporal intraspecific trait variability drives responses of functional diversity to inter-annual aridity variation in grasslands
Chen, Huiying et al. (2019), Data from: Temporal intraspecific trait variability drives responses of functional diversity to inter-annual aridity variation in grasslands, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.5q66f0n
Inter-annual climate variation alters functional diversity through intraspecific trait variability and species turnover. We examined these diversity elements in three types of grasslands in Northern China, including two temperate steppes and an alpine meadow. We evaluated the differences in community-weighted means (CWM) of plant traits and functional dispersion (FDis) between two years with contrasting aridity in the growing season. Four traits were measured: specific leaf area (SLA), leaf dry matter content (LDMC), leaf nitrogen concentration (LNC) and the maximum plant height (H). CWM for SLA of the alpine meadow increased in the dry year while that of the temperate steppe in Qinghai showed opposing trends. CWM of LDMC in two temperate steppes became higher and CWM of LNC in all grasslands became lower in the dry year. Compared with the wet year, FDis of LDMC in the alpine meadow and FDis of LNC in the temperate steppe in Qinghai decreased in the dry year. FDis of H was higher in the dry year for two temperate steppes. Only in the temperate steppe in Qinghai did the multi-FDis of all traits experience a significant increase in the dry year. Most of the changes in CWM and FDis between two years were explained by intraspecific trait variation rather than shifts in species composition. This study highlights that temporal intraspecific trait variation contributes to functional responses to environmental changes. Our results also suggest it would be necessary to consider habitat types when modelling ecosystem responses to climate changes, as different grasslands showed different response patterns.