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Vascular plants from a study of primary producer traits across an altitudinal gradient in alpine Finse


One of the major challenges for contemporary ecologists is to understand how ecological communities respond to environmental changes. Although classifying species to their taxonomy is useful, it has major limitations when it comes to answering ecological questions. A more functional approach, based on a species set of traits that define its performance within an ecosystem, provides much more insight. Many plant ecologists have now applied such trait-based approaches, but these studies are often limited to vascular plants and do not include other important primary producer groups such as lichens and bryophytes. However, there may be clear differences in what drives changes in community level traits across environmental gradients between producer groups: in vascular plants changes in species community are often most important and intraspecific variation is often also significant, whereas recent studies suggest that in lichens intraspecific variation alone drives changes in community level traits. In this study, we will disentangle the relative importance of species turnover versus intraspecific variation as drivers of community-level traits in different primary producer groups simultaneously across the same environmental gradient in Finse, Southern Norway. The % cover was estimated visually in 50x50cm subplots with a wire frame marking out 10x10cm squares. All species covering less than 1% was marked as cover = 0.5 in the data.