Functional Traits and Community Assembly during Secondary Succession

Robin L. Chazdon

in Second Growth

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2014 | ISBN: 9780226117911
Published online September 2014 | e-ISBN: 9780226118109 | DOI:
Functional Traits and Community Assembly during Secondary Succession

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  • Biodiversity and Conservation Biology


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This chapter examines the life forms, functional traits, and functional groups of plants that predominate during different successional stages, and describes patterns and mechanisms of species turnover during succession. The high photosynthetic and growth capacity of plants that colonize early in succession enables these species to compete effectively for high levels of resource availability. But species with these “fast” traits lose their competitive edge later in succession, when establishment and survival depend more upon “slow” traits that reduce intrinsic rates of growth and enable long-term persistence in shaded understory. Changes in species composition during succession reflect a combination of initial floristic composition and relay floristics, in which species colonize sequentially in response to changing forest conditions. Tree recruitment during later stages of succession favors species that are more functionally and phylogenetically distinct than during earlier stages of succession as biotic interactions become increasingly important drivers of community assembly.

Keywords: community assembly; competition; environmental filtering; functional groups; functional traits; growth; mortality; pioneer; seed size; shade tolerance

Chapter.  9878 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Biodiversity and Conservation Biology

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