Variable thermal plasticity of leaf functional traits in Andean tropical montane forests

Cox, Andrew J.F.; González‐Caro, Sebastián; Meir, Patrick; Hartley, Iain P.; Restrepo, Zorayda; Villegas, Juan C.; Sanchez, Adriana; Mercado, Lina M. ORCID: 2024 Variable thermal plasticity of leaf functional traits in Andean tropical montane forests. Plant, Cell & Environment, 47 (3). 731-750.

Before downloading, please read NORA policies.
N536512JA.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution 4.0.

Download (4MB) | Preview


Tropical montane forests (TMFs) are biodiversity hotspots and provide vital ecosystem services, but they are disproportionately vulnerable to climate warming. In the Andes, cold-affiliated species from high elevations are being displaced at the hot end of their thermal distributions by warm-affiliated species migrating upwards from lower elevations, leading to compositional shifts. Leaf functional traits are strong indicators of plant performance and at the community level have been shown to vary along elevation gradients, reflecting plant adaptations to different environmental niches. However, the plastic response of such traits to relatively rapid temperature change in Andean TMF species remains unknown. We used three common garden plantations within a thermosequence in the Colombian Andes to investigate the warming and cooling responses of key leaf functional traits in eight cold- and warm-affiliated species with variable thermal niches. Cold-affiliated species shifted their foliar nutrient concentrations when exposed to warming, while all other traits did not significantly change; contrastingly, warm-affiliated species were able to adjust structural, nutrient and water-use efficiency traits from acquisitive to conservative strategies in response to cooling. Our findings suggest that cold-affiliated species will struggle to acclimate functional traits to warming, conferring warm-affiliated species a competitive advantage under climate change.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Hydro-climate Risks (Science Area 2017-)
ISSN: 0140-7791
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open Access paper - full text available via Official URL link.
Additional Keywords: leaf functional traits, plasticity, thermal acclimation, tropical montane forests
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 19 Dec 2023 16:06 +0 (UTC)

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item

Document Downloads

Downloads for past 30 days

Downloads per month over past year

More statistics for this item...