Studies have found a relationship between seed functional traits and plant distribution size

Seed plants are the most prosperous plant group on Earth and the most important producers in terrestrial ecosystems, but the distribution of different groups of seed plants on land varies greatly. Recently, the team of Li Debao, a researcher at the Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and the team of Gao Lianming, a professor at the University of Alberta in Canada, and Kevin S. Burgess, a professor at Columbus State University in the United States, jointly revealed the relationship between the size of seed plant distribution area and the key functional traits and phylogeny of seeds. The relevant research results were published in Biogeoscience.

Seeds are the movable life history stage of plants, participating in the key ecological processes that restrict distribution, such as dispersal and colonization, and the relationship between the functional traits of seeds and plant distribution areas is worth in-depth discussion. For example, some species of the genus Asterus can reach tens of millions of square kilometers, while some endemic species of Phoenix in the mountains of southwest China are limited to a distribution area of less than one square kilometer.

Based on the subfunctional traits data of 122 families and 501 genera and 1426 planting species collected by the Wildlife Germplasm Resource Bank in southwest China, and supplemented some seed functional traits data of the British Millennium Seed Bank, combined with the plant distribution information obtained from the public database and the phylogenetic tree relationship of angiosperms, the relationship between the size of seed plant distribution area and the key functional traits and phylogeny of seeds was explored by means of least squares phylogenetic regression and variation decomposition.

Impatiens taronensis - Chen Kai.jpg

Dulong Phoenix Flower Photo by Chen Kai

Senecio scandens Buch.-Ham. ex D. Don - Gao Lianming 2 .JPG

Asteraceae plant Sengliguang Photo by Gao Lianming

The results show that there are significant phylogenetic signals in the distribution area size of seed plants, and after excluding phylogenetic signals, the smaller the seeds, the larger the plant distribution area. The variability of seed size has a certain positive effect on plant distribution, and the interaction between seed size and seed dispersal mode affects plant distribution. Overall, phylogeny, seed size and variability, and dispersal patterns together explained 46.82% of the species distribution variation. This study provides a new case for understanding how seed functional traits and phylogeny affect plant distribution size. (Source: China Science Daily Gao Yali)

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