J Plant Ecol ›› 2018, Vol. 11 ›› Issue (6): 919-927.DOI: 10.1093/jpe/rty001

• Research Articles • Previous Articles    

Elevational patterns and ecological determinants of mean family age of angiosperm assemblages in temperate forests within Mount Taibai, China

Mingfei Zhao1, Yuhang Wang1, Feng Xue1, Wanyi Zuo2, Kaixiong Xing3, Guoyi Wang1, Muyi Kang1 and Yuan Jiang4,*   

  1. 1 State Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource Ecology, Faculty of Geographical Science, Beijing Normal University, No. 19, XinJieKouWai St., HaiDian District, Beijing 100875, China 2 Taxonomy and Biodiversity, Imperial College London, London SW7 2AZ, United Kingdom
    3 Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 11A, Datun Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing 100101, China
    4 Beijing Key Laboratory of Traditional Chinese Medicine Protection and Utilization, Faculty of Geographical Science, Beijing Normal University, No. 19, XinJieKouWai St., HaiDian District, Beijing 100875,China
    *Correspondence address. Beijing Key Laboratory of Traditional Chinese Medicine Protection and Utilization, Faculty of Geographical Science, Beijing Normal University, No. 19, XinJieKouWai St., HaiDian District, Beijing 100875, China Tel: +86-10-5880-6093; E-mail: jiangy@bnu.edu.cn
  • Received:2017-06-02 Revised:2017-12-27 Accepted:2018-01-13 Online:2018-01-18 Published:2018-12-21

Abstract:

Aims

Species assembly is shaped by the interactions among ecological and evolutionary processes. By integrating the niche conservatism and evolutionary history, the tropical niche conservatism hypothesis (TCH) has clarified species latitudinal diversity gradient at large scales. One of the TCH’s central predictions, though lacking empirical evidence, implies that positive relationship between clade age and temperature along the altitudinal gradient should also be observed. Thus, we aim to test this prediction using a data set derived from forest communities of Mt. Taibai, central China.

Methods

We systematically established 49 plots (20 m × 30 m) along the north slope on Mt. Taibai, China. We calculated the mean family age (MFA) and its corresponding standardized values through rarefication and standardization, for woody and herbaceous angiosperm assemblages in each community respectively. Generalized linear models with Akaike weight and correlation analysis was used to evaluate the relationships between MFA with seven environmental predictors.

Important Findings

For both woody and herbaceous assemblages, the standardized MFA showed significant decreasing tendencies along the elevational gradient and positive associations with minimum temperature (measured as mean temperature of the coldest month). Additionally, minimum temperature is the dominant predictor compared with the others in the regression models. These findings are generally consistent with the age-related predictions of the TCH, but are contrary to the results of related studies conducted in tropical regions.

Key words: species assembly, cold tolerance, temperate forest, habitat filtering, clade age, tropical conservatism hypothesis