Research ArticleECOLOGY

Informing trait-based ecology by assessing remotely sensed functional diversity across a broad tropical temperature gradient

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Science Advances  04 Dec 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 12, eaaw8114
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaw8114


Spatially continuous data on functional diversity will improve our ability to predict global change impacts on ecosystem properties. We applied methods that combine imaging spectroscopy and foliar traits to estimate remotely sensed functional diversity in tropical forests across an Amazon-to-Andes elevation gradient (215 to 3537 m). We evaluated the scale dependency of community assembly processes and examined whether tropical forest productivity could be predicted by remotely sensed functional diversity. Functional richness of the community decreased with increasing elevation. Scale-dependent signals of trait convergence, consistent with environmental filtering, play an important role in explaining the range of trait variation within each site and along elevation. Single- and multitrait remotely sensed measures of functional diversity were important predictors of variation in rates of net and gross primary productivity. Our findings highlight the potential of remotely sensed functional diversity to inform trait-based ecology and trait diversity-ecosystem function linkages in hyperdiverse tropical forests.

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