Los distintos órganos de la planta (hoja, tallo y raíz) funcionan de manera coordinada

LSR-figurePlants, like so many organisms, have several specialized organs for different functions. Thus, the main role of leaves is light capture, while roots are related with soil water and nutrient uptake, and stems supply these water and nutrients to the leaves. According with their functional diversification, differences among organ characteristics could be expected. Currently, an intense debate in plant ecology exists about the coordination among leaf, stem and root traits. Understanding this quandary could help to bring some clarification about how plants function, as well as to discern the potential effects of environmental changes (such as climatic change) on plant community structure.

A collaborative study of the IRNAS-CSIC and the University of Córdoba has analysed the functional coordination of leaves, stems and root traits on 38 woody plant species selected along a gradient of soil moisture in Sierra Morena.

This study revealed a high degree of functional coordination between traits belonging to different plant organs. For example, the species with higher stem density showed higher leaf and root density also. These results suggest the existence of an “economics spectrum” at whole plant level on Mediterranean woody plant species. On the other hand, the same coordination between traits has been founded at community level, and these relationships were stronger at the community than at the species level. In addition, we found that the distribution of plant communities along the soil moisture gradient followed a clear pattern. Thus, the areas with lower water availability were dominated by communities where species were associated with a more conservative use of resources, while the wetter areas were dominated by species with a more acquisitive strategy, which used up more resources. However, the general trend of coordination between traits of different organs became weaker or disappeared at a lower spatial scale, when considering groups of species belonging to environmentally similar sites, suggesting that the diversification of strategies within communities was not related to the economics spectrum at a lower spatial scale.

This work, which is part of the Ph. D. of Enirque G. de la Riva, has been published in the Journal of Vegetation Science.

de la Riva, E. G., Tosto, A., Pérez-Ramos, I. M., Navarro-Fernández, C. M., Olmo, M., Anten, N.P.R., Marañón, T., & Villar, R. (2015). A plant economics spectrum in Mediterranean forests along environmental gradients: is there coordination among leaf, stem and root traits? Journal of Vegetation Science. DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12341.

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