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Do rock endemic and widespread plant species differ under the Leaf–Height–Seed plant ecology strategy scheme?


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Westoby (1998) proposed the Leaf–Height–Seed (L–H–S) scheme, i.e. the use of three functional traits, specific leaf area (SLA), plant canopy height and seed mass, to describe plant ecological strategies. In this study, we examine whether endemic species from cliffs and rocky outcrops can be discriminated in a regional Mediterranean flora according to these three traits. First, we conducted a comparison across 13 pairs of rock endemic species and widespread congeners. Second, we performed a canonical discriminant analysis to compare the position in the L–H–S volume of these 13 pairs of endemic and widespread congeners with that of 35 phylogenetically unrelated widespread species taken from the same regional flora. Our results show that rock endemic species only differ from their widespread congeners in their smaller stature. However, when compared with the 35 unrelated widespread species, endemic species are discriminated by higher SLA and taller stature, and thus are not close to the stress-tolerant pole of ecological strategies (small stature, low SLA), as hypothesized in the literature.