Dynamics of environmental gradients on plant functional groups composition on the northern slope of the Fu-Niu Mountain Nature Reserve
The dominant and companion species in plant functional groups composition may reflect associations among plant functional groups and species replacement along environmental (elevation) gradients on the northern slope of the Fu-Niu Mountain Nature Reserve. Using community ecology techniques, these researchers examined the influences of elevation on plant functional group (PFG) dynamics and population interactions at elevations between 855 and 1920 m on the northern slope of the Fu-Niu mountain nature reserve. Importance values (IV) of every dominant and companion species in plant functional groups composition were calculated and the correlation between elevation and species IV was analyzed. We showed that elevation was the most important environmental factor affecting the distribution pattern of plant functional groups composition. IV of dominant and companion species in plant functional groups composition were significantly correlated with elevation gradient (P<0.05, P<0.01) on the northern slope of the Fu-Niu Mountain. Understanding the changes and their causes in these PFG is essential for further research of local ecosystem functions and the goal of sustainable development in the context of biodiversity conservation. This study may help policy makers formulate better plant biodiversity conservation and restoration plans.
Key words: Plant functional groups, environmental gradients, importance values, elevation, correlation.