Articles | Volume 11, issue 5
Biogeosciences, 11, 1361–1370, 2014
Biogeosciences, 11, 1361–1370, 2014

Research article 10 Mar 2014

Research article | 10 Mar 2014

Relative roles of local disturbance, current climate and paleoclimate in determining phylogenetic and functional diversity in Chinese forests

G. Feng1, X. C. Mi2, P. K. Bøcher1, L. F. Mao3, B. Sandel1, M. Cao4, W. H. Ye5, Z. Q. Hao6, H. D. Gong4, Y. T. Zhang7, X. H. Zhao8, G. Z. Jin9, K. P. Ma2, and J.-C. Svenning1 G. Feng et al.
  • 1Ecoinformatics and Biodiversity Group, Department of Bioscience, Aarhus University, Ny Munkegade 114, 8000 Aarhus C, Denmark
  • 2State Key Laboratory of Vegetation and Environmental Change, Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 20 Nanxincun, Xiangshan, Beijing, 100093, China
  • 3Department of Plant Biology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, 48824, USA
  • 4Key Laboratory of Tropical Forest Ecology, Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 650223, Kunming, China
  • 5Key Laboratory of Plant Resources Conservation and Sustainable Utilization, South China Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 510650, Guangzhou, China
  • 6State Key Laboratory of Forest and Soil Ecology, Institute of Applied Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, P.O. Box 417, 110016, Shenyang, China
  • 7Institute of Forest Ecology, Xinjiang Academy of Forestry, 830000, Urumqi, China
  • 8Key Laboratory for Forest Resources and Ecosystem Processes of Beijing, Beijing Forestry University, 100083, Beijing, China
  • 9Center for Ecological Research, Northeast Forestry University, Harbin, 150040, China

Abstract. The main processes underlying the generation and maintenance of biodiversity include both local factors such as competition and abiotic filtering and regional forces such as paleoclimate, speciation and dispersal. While the effects of regional and local drivers on species diversity are increasingly studied, their relative importance for other aspects of diversity, notably phylogenetic and functional diversity is so far little studied. Here, we link data from large Chinese forest plots to data on current and Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) climate as well as local disturbance regimes to study their relative roles in determining woody plant phylogenetic and functional diversity in this important hotspot for woody plant diversity. Local disturbance was the best predictor of functional diversity as represented by maximum canopy height (Hmax), probably reflecting the dominant role of competition for light in determining the forest Hmax structure. In contrast, the LGM–present anomaly in temperature was the factor with the strongest explanatory power for phylogenetic diversity, with modern climate also important. Hence, local contemporary and regional historical factors have highly contrasting importance for the geographic patterns of the functional (as represented by variation in maximum canopy height) and phylogenetic aspects of Chinese forest's woody plant diversity. Importantly, contemporary factors are of overriding importance for functional diversity, while paleoclimate has left a strong signature in the phylogenetic diversity patterns.

Final-revised paper