Ecophysiology of four co-occurring Lycophyte species: an investigation of functional convergence

Dendrolycopodium dendroideum from the northeastern United States. Colloquially known as groundpine, this species is frequent in rich mixed forests in the cooler regions of the US. (Photo credit: the authors)
Dendrolycopodium dendroideum from the northeastern United States. Colloquially known as groundpine, this species is frequent in rich mixed forests in the cooler regions of the US. (Photo credit: James Watkins)

Modern clubmosses (Lycophytes) are a vestige of their gargantuan carboniferous ancestors that dominated the paleoflora flora for millions of years. The group has a broad global distribution ranging from tundra to tropical forests and can make up an important component of temperate northeast US forests. Yet little is known of the ecophysiology of these plants. The goal of a new study published in AoB PLANTS by Zier et al. was to examine four temperate lycophyte taxa that are commonly found in northeast US temperate forests. The authors evaluated the relationship of several functional parameters and found evidence of functional ecological convergence largely based on growth form. Species with substantial belowground biomass investment are consistently more similar across multiple traits than taxa with rhizomes that are largely aboveground. Such differences may help explain how these taxa partition their environment and frequently grow in dense multispecies stands.

Reference List

Jacqlynn Zier, Bryce Belanger, Genevieve Trahan, James E. Watkins, 2015, 'Ecophysiology of four co-occurring lycophyte species: an investigation of functional convergence', AoB PLANTS, vol. 7, p. plv137 http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aobpla/plv137