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Sci Rep. 2016 Oct 18;6:35420. doi: 10.1038/srep35420.

Functional diversity exhibits a diverse relationship with area, even a decreasing one.

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Department of Environmental and Natural Resources Management, University of Patras, Seferi 2, GR-30100, Agrinio, Greece.
School of Biology, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, GR-54124, Thessaloniki, Greece.


The relationship between species richness and area is one of the few well-established laws in ecology, and one might expect a similar relationship with functional diversity (FD). However, only a few studies investigate the relationship between trait-based FD and area, the Functional Diversity - Area Relationship (FDAR). To examine FDAR, we constructed the species accumulation curve and the corresponding FD curve. We used plant diversity data from nested plots (1-128 m2), recorded on the Volcanic islands of Santorini Archipelagos, Greece. Six multidimensional FD indices were calculated using 26 traits. We identified a typology of FDARs depending on the facet of FD analyzed: (A) strongly positive for indices quantifying the range of functional traits in the community, (B) negative correlation for indices quantifying the evenness in the distribution of abundance in the trait space, (C) no clear pattern for indices reflecting the functional similarity of species and (D) idiosyncratic patterns with area for functional divergence. As area increases, the range of traits observed in the community increases, but the abundance of traits does not increase proportionally and some traits become dominant, implying a reliance on some functions that may be located in either the center or the periphery of the trait space.

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