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Functional traits have emerged as a key to understand species responses to environmental conditions. The concerted expression of multiple traits gives rise to the phenotype of each individual, which is the one interacting with the environment and evolving. However, patterns of trait covariation and how they vary in response to environmental conditions remain poorly understood, particularly at the intraspecific scale. Here, we have measured traits at different scales and in different organs, and analysed their covariation in a large number of conspecifics distributed in two contrasting environments. We expected significant correlations among traits, not only within clusters of traits as found in global, multispecies studies, but also among clusters, with more relationships within clusters, due to genetic constraints, and among clusters due to more coordinated phenotypes than community level, multispecies studies. We surveyed 100 Pinus sylvestris trees in a Mediterranean mountainous area distributed in two contrasting elevations. We measured 13 functional traits, in three clusters (leaf, stem and whole-plant traits), and analysed their variation and coordination. We found significant coordination among traits belonging to different clusters that reveals coordinated phenotypes. However, we found fewer correlations within trait clusters than initially expected. Trait correlation structures (number, intensity and type of correlations among traits) differed among individuals at different elevations. We observed more correlations within trait clusters at low elevation compared to those at high elevation. Moreover, the higher number of correlations among different trait clusters and the lower trait variation at the higher elevation suggests that variability decreases under more stressful conditions. Altogether, our results reveal that traits at intraspecific scale are coordinated in a broad network and not only within clusters of traits but also that this trait covariation is significantly affected by environmental conditions.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: PloS one
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A plant species of the genus PINUS which is the source of pinosylvin. It is sometimes called Scotch pine or Scots pine, which is also a common name for other species of this genus.
Neutral or negatively charged ligands bonded to metal cations or neutral atoms. The number of ligand atoms to which the metal center is directly bonded is the metal cation's coordination number, and this number is always greater than the regular valence or oxidation number of the metal. A coordination complex can be negative, neutral, or positively charged.
Organic chemicals that form two or more coordination links with an iron ion. Once coordination has occurred, the complex formed is called a chelate. The iron-binding porphyrin group of hemoglobin is an example of a metal chelate found in biological systems.
Morphological or behavioral traits influenced by various living conditions that a population encounters especially as it pertains to REPRODUCTION and survival of the population (see POPULATION DYNAMICS) such as age at first reproductive event, number and size of offspring, and lifespan.
A system of universal human blood group isoantigens with many associated subgroups. The M and N traits are codominant and the S and s traits are probably very closely linked alleles, including the U antigen. This system is most frequently used in paternity studies.