Retrieving Foliar Traits of Quercus garryana var. garryana across a Modified Landscape Using Leaf Spectroscopy and LiDAR Hacker, Paul W.; Coops, Nicholas C.; Townsend, Philip A.; Wang, Zhihui
Understanding the ecological effects of human activities on an ecosystem is integral to the implementation of conservation management plans. The plasticity of plant functional traits presents an opportunity to examine the capacity for intraspecific functional trait variations to be indicators of anthropogenic landscape modifications. The presence of intraspecific trait variation would indicate that plants of a single species could to be used to evaluate and map functional diversity, a common metric used to measure biodiversity. This study uses leaf spectroscopy, light detection and ranging (LiDAR) and partial least squares regression (PLSR) to examine the intraspecific variation of functional traits in a population of 40 Quercus garryana experiencing varying levels of anthropogenic influence at the site level (<0.3 km²) in Duncan, B.C., Canada. These individuals vary in their spatial relationship to roads, agricultural land use change and an encroaching Coastal Douglas-fir forest. A total of 14 functional traits were estimated using pre-determined PLSR coe cients from a multi-species dataset. LiDAR data for each tree and were organized into functional categories based on their influence of plant lifeform, leaf growth or leaf structure. Principal components analysis was performed on each functional category to determine the relative influence of each trait. Results show that leaf growth and lifeform functional trait categories express significant variation in relation to three anthropogenic landscape modifications, while traits associated to leaf structure only varied between land use types (p = 0.05). Diameter at breast height (DBH), mass-based chlorophyll and leaf mass per area (LMA) showed the strongest variation across treatments. These findings support the hypothesis that trait variation exists in small populations of the same species and illustrate that spectroscopy can be used to indirectly sense land use via the leaf functional traits of a single tree species.
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