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Testing trait plasticity over the range of spectral composition of sunlight in forb species differing in shade tolerance


Wang, Qing-Wei et al. (2020), Testing trait plasticity over the range of spectral composition of sunlight in forb species differing in shade tolerance, Dryad, Dataset,


  1. Although sunlight is essential for plant growth and development, the relative importance of each spectral region in shaping functional traits is poorly understood, particularly in dynamic light environments such as forest ecosystems.
  2. We examined responses of 25 functional traits from groups of 11 shade-intolerant and 12 understorey shade-tolerant forb species grown outdoors under five filter treatments differing in spectral transmittance: (1) transmitting c 95% of solar radiation; (2) attenuating ultraviolet-B (UV-B); (3) attenuating all UV; (4) attenuating all UV and blue light; (5) attenuating all UV, blue, and green light.
  3. Our results show that UV-B radiation mainly affected the biochemical traits but blue light mainly affected the physiological traits irrespective of functional strategy, whereas green light affected both sets of traits. This would suggest that differentiation among suites of functional-trait responses proceeds according to light quality. Biomass accumulation was significantly increased by UV-A radiation (contrasting treatment (2) vs (3)) among shade-intolerant but decreased by blue light among shade-tolerant species; green and red light affected whole-plant morphological development differently according to functional groups. Shade-tolerant species were more plastic than shade-intolerant species in response to each spectral region that we examined except for UV-B radiation.
  4. Synthesis. Our results show that differences in the spectral composition of sunlight can drive functional trait expression irrespective of total irradiance received. The different responses of functional traits between functional groups imply that shade-tolerant and intolerant species have adapted to utilize spectral cues differently in their respective light environments.


Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, Award: 17F17403,17H03736

Academy of Finland, Award: 304,519,324,555