Variance in biomass-allocation fractions is explained by distribution in European trees

Stavros D. Veresoglou, Josep Peñuelas

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearch

    2 Citations (Scopus)


    © 2019 The Authors. New Phytologist © 2019 New Phytologist Trust Intraspecific variability in ecological traits confers the ability of a species to adapt to an ever-changing environment. Fractions of biomass allocation in plants (BAFs) represent both ecological traits and direct expressions of investment strategies and so have important implications on plant fitness, particularly under current global change. We combined data on BAFs of trees in > 10 000 forest plots with their distributions in Europe. We aimed to test whether plant species with wider distributions have more or less variable intraspecific variance of the BAFs foliage–woody biomass and shoot–root ratios than species with limited distribution. Irrespective of corrections for tree age and phylogenetic relatedness, the standard deviation in BAFs was up to three times higher in species with the most extensive distributions than in those with the least extensive distribution due to a higher genetic diversity. Variance in BAFs also increased with latitude. We show that a combination of 36% tree genetic diversity and 64% environmental variability explains variance in BAFs and implies that changes in genetic diversity occur quickly. Genetic diversity should thus play a key role in regulating species responses to future climate change. Loss of habitat, even if transient, could induce a loss of genetic diversity and hinder species survival.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1352-1363
    JournalNew Phytologist
    Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2019


    • allometry
    • effective population size
    • extinction
    • genetic diversity
    • plant allometry
    • plant morphology
    • woody plants

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