Abstract Detail



Biogeography

Harris, Timothy [1], Mulligan, Mark [2], Brummitt, Neil [1].

Taxonomic literature is functional! Using herbarium resources to investigate functional traits across the African continent.

Biodiversity has many different facets. Bio-geographic comparisons tend to focus on species richness, but the range of trait values in communities, i.e. functional richness, can be estimated for plants from the information available from herbarium specimens and taxonomic descriptions. Functional richness is a metric for which opportunities for measurement using remote sensing are growing, but this approach requires baseline estimates of plant functional richness. We show that plant taxonomy can play a role in providing these baseline estimates of functional richness. We show how species richness varies with functional richness for flowering plant species across the continent of Africa. We first established flowering plant species richness across the continent by building Maximum Entropy Species Distribution Models for a subset of species sampled at random from global checklists. Locality information for each species came from herbarium specimens. We estimated functional richness of the species occurring in each 10km2 by calculating the range of values of three continuous traits as expressed in a convex hull volume. Recent completion of several regional Floras has provided thousands of detailed descriptions of African plant species which we used to identify trait values for each species. We show that there is a strong positive relationship between species richness and functional richness. Our work has also identified discrete geographic regions where the range of traits observed in our sample of plant species is particularly constrained given the number of species present.


1 - Natural History Museum, London UK, Life Sciences, Cromwell Road, London, SW7 5BD, UK
2 - Kings College London, Geography, Bush House , 30 Aldwych, London, WC2B 4BG , UK

Keywords:
functional traits
Africa
functional diversity.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Number:
Abstract ID:496
Candidate for Awards:None


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