Abstract Detail


Bried, Jason [1], Crisfield, Varina [2], Ficken, Cari [3], Allen, Brandon [4], Jog, Suneeti [5].

Evaluating trait-based generalizability of plant ecological conservatism to universally enable floristic quality assessments.

Floristic quality is an appealing concept and a tool for assessing ecosystem health and integrity, but its universal applicability is limited by the availability of species conservatism (ecological sensitivity) values, or C-scores. As ecological sensitivity is driven by underlying traits and many species have databased trait values, one possible approach to C-score assignments is through traits. To enable more widespread floristic quality assessments, we tested the geographic consistency of trait-C relationships and the trait-based predictability of C scores across five regions in the United States. There was evidence of regional consistency for germination rate, growth rate, propagation type, dispersal unit, and leaf nitrogen. However, the individual relationships were too noisy and statistically weak (R2 0.1–0.2) for reliable prediction of C scores. Furthermore, a predictive model combining these traits produced unacceptable C-score classification errors (>10% of species, in some cases >50%). The mismatches may largely be explained by inability to generalize regionally varying C scores from the geographically static (mean) trait values in databases. Based on these results, we see two remaining options for building a more universal Floristic Quality Assessment system. One is to incorporate regional intraspecific trait variation into global trait databases. Another is broad coordinated efforts to organize the world’s leading botanists and regional floristic experts around C-score deliberations.

1 - University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA
2 - University of Sherbrooke, Canada
3 - University of Buffalo, USA
4 - University of Alberta
5 - University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Illinois Natural History Survey, 1816 S Oak St., Prairie Research Institute, Champaign, IL, 61820, United States

plant traits
ecological sensitivity

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Number: EC01005
Abstract ID:140
Candidate for Awards:None

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