Plant's gypsum affinity shapes responses to specific edaphic constraints without limiting responses to other general constraints
Querejeta, José I.
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Aims Harsh edaphic environments harbor species with different soil affinities. Plant's responses to specific edaphic constraints may be compromised against re- sponses to prevalent stresses shared with other semi- arid environments. We expect that species with high edaphic affinity may show traits to overcome harsh soil properties, while species with low affinity may respond to environmental constraints shared with arid environments. Methods We quantified the edaphic affinity of 12 plant species co-occurring in gypsum outcrops and measured traits related to plant responses to specific gypsum con- straints (rooting and water uptake depth, foliar accumu- lation of Ca, S and Mg), and traits related to common constraints of arid environments (water use efficiency, macronutrients foliar content). Results Plants in gypsum outcrops differed in their strategies to face edaphic limitations. A phylogenetic informed PCA segregated species based on their foliar Ca and S accumulation and greater water uptake depths, associated with plant responses to specific gypsum lim- itations. Species' gypsum affinity explained this segre- gation, but traits related to water or nutrient use efficien- cy did not contribute substantially to this axis. Conclusions Plant's specializations to respond to spe- cific edaphic constraints of gypsum soils do not limit their ability to deal with other non-specific environmen- tal constraints