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The functional mechanism behind the latitudinal pattern of liana diversity: Freeze-thaw embolism reduces the ecological performance of liana species

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Lobos-Catal�n, P; Jim�nez-Castillo, M

NA

2023

ECOLOGY AND EVOLUTION

13

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There is a strong decrease in liana diversity along latitudinal and altitudinal gradients at a global scale, and there is a marked difference in liana diversity between tropical and temperate ecosystems. From these observations, it has been proposed that cold temperatures would restrict the ecological patterns of liana because of their vascular system's vulnerability to freeze-thaw embolism. Our objective was to establish the functional mechanism that drives the loss of liana diversity along a latitudinal temperature gradient. We evaluate the ecological performance of liana in 10 different species based on the apical growth rate, as well as functional traits associated with efficiency (maximum hydraulic conductivity and percentage conductivity lost) and safety of water transport (vessel diameter, vessel density, wood density, and root pressure). We found that at the colder (more southern) site within the latitudinal gradient, liana species showed lower performance, with a fivefold decrease in their apical growth rate as compared to the warmer (more northern) sites. We postulate that this lower performance results from a much lower water transport efficiency (26.1-fold decrease as compared to liana species that inhabit warmer sites) that results from higher freeze-thaw (37.5% of PLC) and reduction of vessel diameter (3 times narrower). These results are unmistakable evidence that cold temperature restricts liana performance: in a cold environment, liana species exhibit a strong decrease in performance, low efficiency, and higher safety of water transport. Conversely, at warmer sites, we found that liana species exhibit functional strategies associated with higher performance, higher efficiency, and lower safety of water transport capacity. This trade-off between efficiency and safety of water transport and their effects on performance could explain the latitudinal pattern of liana diversity. Establish the functional mechanism behind the loss of liana diversity along a latitudinal temperature gradient.image

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