Bark functional ecology: evidence for tradeoffs, functional coordination, and environment producing bark diversity
Article first published online: 7 OCT 2013
© 2013 The Authors. New Phytologist © 2013 New Phytologist Trust
Volume 201, Issue 2, pages 486–497, January 2014
How to Cite
Rosell, J. A., Gleason, S., Méndez-Alonzo, R., Chang, Y. and Westoby, M. (2014), Bark functional ecology: evidence for tradeoffs, functional coordination, and environment producing bark diversity. New Phytologist, 201: 486–497. doi: 10.1111/nph.12541
- Issue published online: 18 DEC 2013
- Article first published online: 7 OCT 2013
- Manuscript Accepted: 4 SEP 2013
- Manuscript Received: 9 APR 2013
- CONACYT. Grant Number: 132404
- Daintree Rainforest Observatory of James Cook University
- bark thickness;
- fire ecology;
- trait ecology;
- water storage;
- wood density
- The causes underlying bark diversity are unclear. Variation has been frequently attributed to environmental differences across sites. However, variation may also result from tradeoffs and coordination between bark's multiple functions. Bark traits may also covary with wood and leaf traits as part of major dimensions of plant variation.
- To assess hypotheses regarding tradeoffs and functional coordination, we measured bark traits reflecting protection, storage, mechanics, and photosynthesis in branches of 90 species spanning a wide phylogenetic and environmental range. We also tested associations between bark, wood, and leaf traits. We partitioned trait variation within species, and within and across communities to quantify variation associated with across-site differences.
- We observed associations between bark mechanics and storage, density and thickness, and thickness and photosynthetic activity. Increasing bark thickness contributed significantly to stiffer stems and greater water storage. Bark density, water content, and mechanics covaried strongly with the equivalent wood traits, and to a lesser degree with leaf size, xylem conductivity, and vessel diameter. Most variation was observed within sites and had low phylogenetic signal.
- Compared with relatively minor across-site differences, tradeoffs and coordination among functions of bark, leaves, and wood are likely to be major and overlooked factors shaping bark ecology and evolution.