University of Oulu

Testolin, R, Carmona, CP, Attorre, F, et al. Global functional variation in alpine vegetation. J Veg Sci. 2021; 32:e13000.

Global functional variation in alpine vegetation

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Author: Testolin, Riccardo1; Carmona, Carlos Pérez2; Attorre, Fabio1;
Organizations: 1Department of Environmental Biology, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy
2Institute of Ecology and Earth Sciences, University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia
3Institute of Geography, CEN –Center for Earth System Research and Sustainability, University of Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
4Institute of Biology/Geobotany and Botanical Garden, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, Halle, Germany
5German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena- Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany
6Institute of Botany of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Průhonice, Czech Republic
7Department of Botany, Faculty of Science, University of South Bohemia, České Budějovice, Czech Republic
8Biodiversity, Evolution and Ecology of Plants, Institute of Plant Science and Microbiology, University of Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
9Department of Plant Systematics, University of Bayreuth, Bayreuth, Germany
10Central Siberian Botanical Garden, Siberian Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences, Novosibirsk, Russia
11UR “Ecologie et Dynamique des Systèmes Anthropisés” (EDYSAN, UMR 7058 CNRS-UPJV), Université de Picardie Jules Verne, Amiens, France
12Department of Geographical and Sustainability Sciences, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, USA
13Harry Butler Institute, Murdoch University, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
14Departrment of Geography and Environmental Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa
15Department of Botany and Biodiversity Research, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria
16Botanical Garden –Center for Biological Diversity Conservation, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warszawa, Poland
17Institute of Biology, University of Opole, Opole, Poland
18Department of Biology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, USA
19Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of the Andes, Bogota, Colombia
20Institute of Botany, Plant Science and Biodiversity Centre, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Bratislava, Slovakia
21Department of Botany, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic
22Department of Plant and Fungal Diversity and Resources, Institute of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Sofia, Bulgaria
23Department of Physiological Diversity, Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research –UFZ, Leipzig, Germany
24Department of Ecology and Genetics, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
25Manaaki Whenua–Landcare Research, Lincoln, New Zealand
26Research Unit of Biodiversity (CSUC/UO/PA), University of Oviedo, Mieres, Spain
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: John Wiley & Sons, 2021
Publish Date: 2022-04-06


Questions: What are the functional trade-offs of vascular plant species in global alpine ecosystems? How is functional variation related to vegetation zones, climatic groups and biogeographic realms? What is the relative contribution of macroclimate and evolutionary history in shaping the functional variation of alpine plant communities?

Location: Global.

Methods: We compiled a data set of alpine vegetation with 5,532 geo-referenced plots, 1,933 species and six plant functional traits. We used principal component analysis to quantify functional trade-offs among species and trait probability density to assess the functional dissimilarity of alpine vegetation in different vegetation zones, climatic groups and biogeographic realms. We used multiple regression on distance matrices to model community functional dissimilarity against environmental and phylogenetic dissimilarity, controlling for geographic distance.

Results: The first two PCA axes explained 66% of the species’ functional variation and were related to the leaf and stem economic spectra, respectively. Trait probability density was largely independent of vegetation zone and macroclimate but differed across biogeographic realms. The same pattern emerged for both species pool and community levels. The effects of environmental and phylogenetic dissimilarities on community functional dissimilarity had similar magnitude, while the effect of geographic distance was negligible.

Conclusions: Plant species in alpine areas reflect the global variation of plant function, but with a predominant role of resource use strategies. Current macroclimate exerts a limited effect on alpine vegetation, mostly acting at the community level in combination with evolutionary history. Global alpine vegetation is functionally unrelated to the vegetation zones in which it is embedded, exhibiting strong functional convergence across regions.

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Series: Journal of vegetation science
ISSN: 1100-9233
ISSN-E: 1654-1103
ISSN-L: 1100-9233
Volume: 32
Issue: 2
Article number: e13000
DOI: 10.1111/jvs.13000
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1172 Environmental sciences
1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Funding: GPM was funded by US National Science Foundation award 1853665. JD was funded by the MSMT Inter-Excellence project (LTAUSA18007). LM was funded by the Iluka Chair in Vegetation Science and Biogeography at the Murdoch University. SKW was funded by the NZ Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment's Strategic Science Investment Fund. CPC was funded by the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research (PSG293). BJ-A was funded by the Marie Curie Clarín-COFUND programme of the Principality of Asturias-EU (ACB17-26) and the Spanish Research Agency (AEI/ 10.13039/501100011033)." sPlot was funded by the German Research Foundation as one of iDiv's (DFG FZT 118, 202548816) research platforms.
Dataset Reference: The vegetation plot data are stored and managed by sPlot and the corresponding author and are available upon request. The R code used to carry out the analyses is available at:
Copyright information: © 2021 International Association for Vegetation Science. This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Testolin, R, Carmona, CP, Attorre, F, et al. Global functional variation in alpine vegetation. J Veg Sci. 2021; 32:e13000, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions. This article may not be enhanced, enriched or otherwise transformed into a derivative work, without express permission from Wiley or by statutory rights under applicable legislation. Copyright notices must not be removed, obscured or modified. The article must be linked to Wiley’s version of record on Wiley Online Library and any embedding, framing or otherwise making available the article or pages thereof by third parties from platforms, services and websites other than Wiley Online Library must be prohibited."