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Genome size mediates the effect of environmental filtering in determining plant β-diversity across temperate grasslands
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  • Hai-Yang Zhang,
  • Xiaotao Lü,
  • cunzheng wei,
  • Jeff Powell,
  • Xiaobo Wang,
  • Dingliang Xing,
  • Xing-Guo Han
Hai-Yang Zhang
Western Sydney University Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment
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Xiaotao Lü
Institute of Applied Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences
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cunzheng wei
Institute of Botany Chinese Academy of Sciences
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Jeff Powell
Hawkesbury Institute for the Environnment
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Xiaobo Wang
Lanzhou University College of Pastoral Agriculture Science and Technology
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Dingliang Xing
School of Ecological and Environmental Sciences, East China Normal University
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Xing-Guo Han
State Key Laboratory of Vegetation and Environmental Change
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Abstract

Elucidating mechanisms underlying community assembly and biodiversity patterns is central to ecology and evolution. Genome size (GS, i.e. nuclear DNA content) determines species’ capacity to tolerate environmental stress or to exploit new environments and therefore potentially drive community assembly. However, its role in driving β-diversity (i.e., the site-to-site variability in species composition) remains unclear. We measured GS for 169 plant species and investigated their occurrences within plant communities across 52 sites spanning a 3200-km transect in the temperate grasslands of China. We found environmental factors showed larger effects on β-diversity of large-GS than that of small-GS species. Community weighted mean GS increased with mean annual precipitation, soil total nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations, but decreased with mean annual temperature, suggesting a negative selection against species with large GS in resources-limited or warmer climates. These findings highlight the roles for GS in driving community assembly and predicting species responses to climate change.