The Editor’s Choice article for Volume 108 Issue 1 is “Growth–trait relationships in subtropical forest are stronger at higher diversity“ by Bongers et al. This study assessed how growth–trait relationships at the individual tree level are impacted by species richness at community and local neighbourhood scales.
This Editor’s Choice article highlights the impact that species richness can have on functional trait values and their effect on individual tree growth. Using a planted forest biodiversity experiment, this research shows that growth‐trait relationships are stronger at higher levels of plot richness. This creates a larger difference between acquisitive and conservative growth strategies at higher richness, when compared to lower richness or monoculture plots.
The diversity‐dependent growth‐trait relationships observed in this study show that plant growth depends on local conditions created by neighbour identity, size or traits. In order to determine how functional traits shape biodiversity–ecosystem functioning relationships, it is important to consider the biotic context of individual trees within a community.
These results are part of a large forest biodiversity-ecosystem functioning experiment in China (BEF China).
This video podcast recorded by author, Xiaojuan Liu, explains their research in more detail.
Xiaojuan’s video can also be found on the Journal of Ecology YouTube channel (English subtitles available).