As plants expand into new open habitats, geographical and climatic factors may matter more than species-specific traits, according to a study published September 11, 2019 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Miki Nomura of the University of Otago in New Zealand, and colleagues.
Humans have substantially modified the global land surface, with deforestation being the most widespread land cover change. As human activity converts original closed forest habitat to a more open habitat, ecosystems change accordingly. In this study, Nomura and colleagues investigated the relative roles of geographic features, climate characteristics and species-specific traits in determining the ability of plant species to take advantage of recently opened habitats in New Zealand. They used 18 herbaceous species of the genus Acaena (Rosaceae), which are predominantly found in open habitats, and examined their current prevalence in naturally-open and recently-opened habitats across New Zealand, noting each species' ability to disperse into...
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