Contrasted taxonomic, phylogenetic and functional diversity patterns in semi-natural permanent grasslands along an altitudinal gradient
Background and aims - Recent methodological and theoretical advances in community ecology have allowed more robust exploration of complementary facets of biodiversity in plant communities. Focusing on semi-natural permanent grasslands of the French Jura Mountains, we assessed how taxonomic, phylogenetic and functional diversity metrics vary among three phytosociological vegetation units. Methods - We selected a sample of 135 releves out of a phytosociological database, depicting three phytosociological orders (Brometalia erecti, Arrhenatheretalia elatioris and Trifolio repentis-Phleetalia pratensis) and including 381 vascular plant species. We built a phylogenetic tree based on sequences of two genes encoding chloroplast proteins, from which we computed phylogenetic diversity metrics that we compared to various taxonomic, single-trait and multi-trait functional metrics, including community-weighted means of functional traits (CWMs). Key results - Most diversity metrics and CWMs significantly differed among vegetation units. Within each facet of biodiversity, the different metrics showed complementary results. Moreover, even when considering diversity metrics comparable in mathematical terms, i.e. based on Rao quadratic entropy, the results were largely non-redundant among the facets of biodiversity. Phylogenetic diversity and multi-trait functional diversity show opposite responses to vegetation units, as well as a low phylogenetic signal. These two results suggest that phylogenetic diversity cannot be used as a simple proxy for functional diversity. Conclusion - This study highlights the importance of taking into consideration different facets for a better understanding of biodiversity. In particular, phylogenetic and functional facets appear highly informative, and could thus be used in addition to taxonomic diversity metrics as indicators of conservation value.