Functional differences between Andean oak (Quercus humboldtii Bonpl.) populations: The importance of intraspecific variation

Diana Bonilla, Valentina Castañeda-León, Adriana Corrales, Ana M. Aldana, Julieth V. Cárdenas, Adriana Sanchez

Research output: Contribution to journalResearch Articlepeer-review


Monodominant tree communities can have phenotypic trait variation (intraspecific variation) as extreme as the trait variation across a forest with higher species diversity. An example of such forests is those composed of Quercus, an important genus of woody angiosperms in the montane neotropical forest. The Andean oak, or Quercus humboldtii Bonpl., is the sole member of this genus in South America and a characteristic component of montane ecosystems. Although there are several studies on the ecology and genetic structure of this species, there are few studies on the functional trait diversity among populations. Understanding functional traits can improve our comprehension of how organisms respond to various environmental conditions. In this study, we aimed to evaluate differences in six functional traits in individuals of the Andean oak, in two ontogenetic stages (juveniles and adults) from three populations with contrasting environmental conditions. Additionally, using T-statistics, we assessed the impact of external filters (e.g., climate, resource availability, large-scale biotic interactions) on population assembly. We found a remarkable level of functional differentiation among Andean oak forests, with all traits differing between populations and five traits differing between ontogenetic stages. External filters had a stronger influence in populations with more extreme environmental conditions. These findings emphasize the dynamic and context-dependent nature of functional traits in this species. However, given the limited exploration of functional diversity in Andean oak populations, further studies are needed to inform conservation efforts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0299645
Issue number3 March
StatePublished - Mar 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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