Apr 25, 2020

Spectral niches reveal taxonomic identity and complementarity in plant communities

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Anna K SchweigerJ. A. Gamon


Plant spectra provide integrative measures of their chemical, morphological, anatomical, and architectural traits. We posit that the degree to which plants differentiate in n-dimensional spectral space is a measure of niche differentiation and reveals functional complementarity. In both experimentally and naturally assembled communities, we quantified plant niches using hypervolumes delineated by either plant spectra or 10 functional traits. We compared the niche fraction unique to each species in spectral and trait spaces with increasing dimensionality, and investigated the association between the spectral space occupied, plant growth and community productivity. We show that spectral niches differentiated species better than their functional trait niches. The amount of spectral space occupied by individuals and plant communities increased with plant growth and community productivity, respectively. Further, community productivity was better explained by inter-individual spectral complementarity than by productive individuals occupying large spectral niches. The degree of differentiation in spectral space provides the conceptual basis for identifying plant taxa spectrally. Moreover, our results indicate that the size and positio...Continue Reading

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