Clonality-climate relationships along latitudinal gradient across China: adaptation of clonality to environments.

PLoS ONE. 2014;9(4):e94009 DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0094009


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Journal Title: PLoS ONE

ISSN: 1932-6203 (Online)

Publisher: Public Library of Science (PLoS)

LCC Subject Category: Medicine | Science

Country of publisher: United States

Language of fulltext: English

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Duo Ye

Yukun Hu

Minghua Song

Xu Pan

Xiufang Xie

Guofang Liu

Xuehua Ye

Ming Dong


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Time From Submission to Publication: 24 weeks


Abstract | Full Text

Plant clonality, the ability of a plant species to reproduce itself vegetatively through ramets (shoot-root units), occurs in many plant species and is considered to be more frequent in cold or wet environments. However, a deeper understanding on the clonality-climate relationships along large geographic gradients is still scarce. In this study we revealed the clonality-climate relationships along latitudinal gradient of entire China spanning from tropics to temperate zones using clonality data for 4015 vascular plant species in 545 terrestrial communities. Structural equation modeling (SEM) showed that, in general, the preponderance of clonality increased along the latitudinal gradient towards cold, dry or very wet environments. However, the distribution of clonality in China was significantly but only weakly correlated with latitude and four climatic factors (mean annual temperature, temperature seasonality, mean annual precipitation, precipitation seasonality). Clonality of woody and herbaceous species had opposite responses to climatic variables. More precisely, woody clonality showed higher frequency in wet or climatically stable environments, while herbaceous clonality preferred cold, dry or climatically instable environments. Unexplained variation in clonality may be owed to the influences of other environmental conditions and to different clonal strategies and underlying traits adopted by different growth forms and phylogenetic lineages. Therefore, in-depth research in terms of more detailed clonal growth form, phylogeny and additional environmental variables are encouraged to further understand plant clonality response to climatic and/or edaphic conditions.