Data from: How do functional traits syndromes covary with growth and reproductive performance in a water-stressed population of Fagus sylvatica?
Bontemps, Aurore et al. (2017), Data from: How do functional traits syndromes covary with growth and reproductive performance in a water-stressed population of Fagus sylvatica?, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.v7v8c
A central issue in plant evolutionary ecology is to understand how several coordinated suites of traits (i.e. traits syndrome) may be jointly selected within a single species. This study aims to describe patterns of variation and co-variation of functional traits in a water-stressed tree population and test their relationships with performance traits. Within a Mediterranean population of Fagus sylvatica experiencing recurrent summer droughts, we investigated the phenotypic variation of leaf unfolding phenology, Leaf Area (LA), Leaf Mass per Area (LMA), Leaf Water Content (LWC), water use efficiency (WUE) estimated by carbon isotopic discrimination (d13C), twig Huber-value (HV: the stem cross-section divided by the leaf area distal to the stem), wood density (WDens), and leaf nitrogen content (Nmass). First, a Principal Component Analysis revealed that two main axes structured the phenotypic variability: the first axis opposed leaf unfolding earliness and LWC to LMA and WUE; the second axis opposed LA to HV. These two axes can be interpreted as the opposition of two strategies (water economy versus water uptake) at two distinct scales (leaf for the first axis and branches for the second axis). Second, we found that LMA, LA, leaf unfolding and LWC responded differently to competition intensity, while WUE, WDens and HV did not correlate with competition. Third, we found that all studied functional traits were related to growth and/or reproductive performance traits and that these relationships were frequently non-linear, showing strong interactions between traits. By highlighting phenotypic clustering of functional traits involved in response to water stress and by evidencing antagonistic selection favouring intermediate trait values as well as trait combinations, our study brought new insights on how natural selection operates on plant functional traits in a stressful environment.