Morphological diversity has the potential to provide a very useful biodiversity metric in that it emphasizes essential aspects of diversity that are not picked up by taxonomic or phylogenetic metrics. While morphological diversity metrics are used increasingly in paleobiological studies, quantitative data on the spatial distribution of morphology in modern ecosystems are scarce. Comparison between different aspects of diversity is often essential in understanding the processes underlying observed biodiversity patterns. In this paper, the morphological traits of Suaeda salsa were characterized to explore the potentiality of morphological diversity and identify the unique diversity available at various water-salt soil assemblage ecosites. The newly created wetland of Huanghe River Delta is a nature laboratory for study of plant morphological diversity. Based on an extended general investigation, according to the variation of microphysiognomy of the newly formed Huanghe River Delta, we selected six plots as sample sites for the measurements of an individual’s traits and selected environmental factors and collection of genetic variability test samples. We performed descriptive statistics, ANOVA, correlation analysis, and cluster analysis to recognize the overall variation of S. salsa as a whole, within the sites, and among populations. The results show that a high level of variability was observed among the individuals in the field. We use sites as a categorical, independent variable that formed six interval-dependent variables for every five plant traits to perform ANOVA analysis, and the results show that all traits have a significant difference (p < 0.001) among sites, but both all traits and sites do not have a significant difference. The height and base leaf width of S. salsa show a significant correlation with the soil water content, soil salt content, and the combined index of salt to water. However, they did not show that the plants traits have a reliable relationship with the soil property. The cluster analysis result indicated that S. salsa can be classified into at least three ecotypes. Comparison of the genetic variation surveyed by starch gel electrophoresis to allozyme polymorphism indicated that morphological diversity is a good metric for quantifying spatial patterns of biodiversity.
Russian Journal of Ecology – Springer Journals
Published: Jul 10, 2007
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