Journal cover Journal topic
Biogeosciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
Biogeosciences, 14, 5313-5321, 2017
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-14-5313-2017
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
29 Nov 2017
Parallel functional and stoichiometric trait shifts in South American and African forest communities with elevation
Marijn Bauters1,2, Hans Verbeeck2, Miro Demol2, Stijn Bruneel2, Cys Taveirne1, Dries Van der Heyden1, Landry Cizungu3, and Pascal Boeckx1 1Isotope Bioscience Laboratory – ISOFYS, Ghent University, Coupure Links 653, 9000 Ghent, Belgium
2CAVElab, Computational and Applied Vegetation Ecology, Ghent University, Coupure Links 653, 9000 Ghent, Belgium
3Faculty of Agronomy, Université Catholique de Bukavu, Avenue de la mission, BP 285, Bukavu, DR Congo
Abstract. The Amazon and Congo basins are the two largest continuous blocks of tropical forest with a central role for global biogeochemical cycles and ecology. However, both biomes differ in structure and species richness and composition. Understanding future directions of the response of both biomes to environmental change is paramount. We used one elevational gradient on both continents to investigate functional and stoichiometric trait shifts of tropical forest in South America and Africa. We measured community-weighted functional canopy traits and canopy and topsoil δ15N signatures. We found that the functional forest composition response along both transects was parallel, with a shift towards more nitrogen-conservative species at higher elevations. Moreover, canopy and topsoil δ15N signals decreased with increasing altitude, suggesting a more conservative N cycle at higher elevations. This cross-continental study provides empirical indications that both South American and African tropical forest show a parallel response with altitude, driven by nitrogen availability along the elevational gradients, which in turn induces a shift in the functional forest composition. More standardized research, and more research on other elevational gradients is needed to confirm our observations.

Citation: Bauters, M., Verbeeck, H., Demol, M., Bruneel, S., Taveirne, C., Van der Heyden, D., Cizungu, L., and Boeckx, P.: Parallel functional and stoichiometric trait shifts in South American and African forest communities with elevation, Biogeosciences, 14, 5313-5321, https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-14-5313-2017, 2017.
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We assessed community-weighted functional canopy traits and indicative δ15N shifts along two new altitudinal transects in the tropical forest biome of both South America and Africa. We found that the functional forest composition and δ15N response along both transects was parallel, with a species shift towards more nitrogen-conservative species at higher elevations.
We assessed community-weighted functional canopy traits and indicative δ15N shifts along two...
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