Patterns of climber distribution in temperate forests of the Americas
Schnitzler A; Amigo J; Hale B; Schnitzler C
Journal of Plant Ecology
Aims and Methods: We propose a standard protocol at the landscape to continental scale for examining to what extent the range of ecological conditions found in temperate latitudes explains the variations in climber species richness and traits. The protocol was tested in forests of the two Americas. The data set included 151 climber species. We selected four categorical traits and grouped these species into six clusters with regard to these traits.\r\n\r\nFloristic records of American forests were first gathered into alliances second combined with bioclimatic indices (rainfall temperature continentality). We obtained a total of 59 vegetational units in which we calculated values of climber species richness and proportion of clusters. Vegetational units were ultimately gathered into five forest formations (characterized by leaf longevity). Wetlands and uplands were considered separately.\r\n\r\nImportant findings: Our results emphasize clear trends in large-scale patterns of climber distribution independently of taxonomy. Climber species richness (in particular woody climbers) peaks in moist and warm upland forests with oceanic climates and where conifers are rare. In flooded areas climber richness is also very high and peaks in seasonally flooded large floodplains. In ecological conditions of frost dryness or lack of nutrients climber species richness abundance and trait diversity decline resulting in the dominance of small twining and deciduous life traits.