The use of productivity and decomposition to address functional redundancy in the Neotropics

Abstract

Past inability to come to a consensus about the degree of functional redundancy in ecosystems may be due, in part, to different definitions of ecosystem function and different investigative methodologies. Here I define ecosystem function, using the largely plant-based functions of aboveground productivity and decomposition of 10 common early successional trees found in Puerto Rico, and then use two different multivariate techniques to define functional groups. I found that: (1) multivariate statistical methods worked well to sort out the test species on axes defined primarily by productivity, which may have more redundancy than decomposition, and initial leaf nutrient content, (2) there were four plant functional groups defined by species (i) Psychotria berteriana, (ii) Cecropia schreberiana, (iii) Inga vera, and (iv) a group containing the other seven species, and (3) the plant traits of nitrogen-fixing capacity and mycorrhizal strategy mapped better onto these groups then those of seed size, wood density, shade tolerance or successional status. Finally, implications for key plant structures and for conservation of Neotropical areas are discussed.

Abbreviations

PCA:

Principal Components Analysis

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Correspondence to R. W. Myster.

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Myster, R.W. The use of productivity and decomposition to address functional redundancy in the Neotropics. COMMUNITY ECOLOGY 3, 51–57 (2002). https://doi.org/10.1556/ComEc.3.2002.1.6

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Keywords

  • Lower montane wet rainforest
  • LTER
  • Luquillo Experimental Forest
  • Successional trees