Determinants of the distribution of plant-functional traits: Relationships with climate and fire across spatial gradients in Australia
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Fire-prone ecosystems are comprised of vegetation with a range of functional traits that confer persistence post-disturbance. Resprouting denotes the functional trait in plants that enables vegetative regeneration after said disturbance events via bud banks located in a range of parts of the plant. In order to do identify the relationships with resprouters and abiotic variables, vegetation data collected from plots located in four areas of Australia was analysed using generalized linear models using climate and fire data as predictor variables. Vegetation variables included relative resprouter richness and percentage of resprouters based on bud bank location: apical (aerial), epicormic (aerial), basal/collar and underground. The results indicated that relative resprouter richness was influenced by increasing mean annual rainfall and decreasing average fire interval. Mean annual rainfall and rainfall seasonality also played a role in determining the prevalence of the various resprouting functional traits. The quantified relationships provide a means of assessing vegetation dynamics and fire regimes in future modelling studies.