Validation of plant functional types across two contrasting landscapes



Abstract. The validation of plant functional type models across contrasting landscapes is seen as a step towards the claim that plant functional types should recur regionally or even globally. I sampled the vegetation of an urban landscape on a range of sites representing gradients of resource supply and disturbance intensity. A group of plants with similar attributes was considered a ‘functional type’, if the species significantly co-occurred in a certain segment of the gradient plane of resource supply and disturbance intensity. Vegetative and regeneration traits were considered. A similar study was performed in a nearby agricultural landscape (Kleyer 1999). The logistic regression models from the urban landscape were applied to the data set of the agricultural landscape and vice versa. Although the overall environment of the two landscapes was very different, recurrent patterns of several functional types were found. At high fertility and high disturbance levels, annual species predominated with a persistent seed bank, high seed output, and short vertical expansion. When disturbances changed from below-ground to above-ground, the sexual regeneration mode was replaced by the vegetative mode, while vertical expansion remained low. At medium disturbance intensities, the vertical expansion and vegetative regeneration increased with fertility, while the seed bank remained mostly transient to short-term persistent and lateral expansion and sexual regeneration was intermediate. At low disturbances and low resource supplies, seed bank longevity, and vertical and lateral expansion tended to be long. Diversity of groups of plants with similar attributes was highest at intermediate disturbance levels and low fertility. These results correspond with Grime's humped-back model and Connell's intermediate disturbance hypothesis.