Community and Functional Ecology of Lianas in the YasunÃ Forest Dynamics Plot, Amazonian Ecuador
Open Access Dissertations
I studied the community of lianas in the YasunÃ Forest Dynamics Plot (YFDP), in Amazonian Ecuador. I found that species diversity of lianas in valley habitat was higher than in ridge habitat, but liana abundance was similar. I also found that community structure (species composition and their abundances) of lianas in ridge was distinct from that in valley because of the differential distribution and abundance of certain species along the topographic gradient. In an attempt to explain this phenomenon deterministically, I took two approaches: (1) to explore if trait expression of leaf-based traits, wood specific gravity and stem growth rate was different among species with ridge habitat association, species with valley habitat association, and generalist species; and (2) to explore if frequencies of different whole-plant growth strategies in the forest understoryâ€”defined by whether a liana was free-standing or already climbing, by its climbing mechanism, and by its understory appearanceâ€”were different between ridge and valley. My underlying rationale was that if certain trait expression or understory growth strategy can be associated to a given species, or group of species, and such species also drive the community structure difference between ridge and valley, then ecological insight on the biological deterministic mechanisms driving the difference can be gained. I end this one-page dissertation abstract right here and purposely leave you, the reader, perplexedâ€”I invite you to seek answers to the liana distribution conundrum in the YFDP by perusing this dissertation.