Biological Sciences, School of


First Advisor

Sabrina E. Russo

Date of this Version



Ju Ping, Chan.2016. The plasticity of functional traits in the dipterocarps of Borneo. MA thesis, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Biological Sciences, Under the Supervision of Professor Sabrina E. Russo. Lincoln, Nebraska: December, 2016

Copyright 2016 Ju Ping Chan


Plasticity plays an important role in the adaptation of sessile organisms like plants to the environment. Plants have been shown to respond plastically in heterogeneous environments, with plants originating from more resource-diverse environments thought to display greater plasticity. There is also evidence that fast-growing species show greater plasticity, as acquisition of resources from resource flushes is greatly aided by faster adaptations. We tested these theories in a Bornean tropical rain forest among three soil specialization groups (clay specialists, sandy loam specialists, and generalists) using two treatments of soil (clay versus sandy loam) and two treatments of light (high versus low). Here, I address four research questions: (1) Do tree species with different soil specializations exhibit differences in the plasticity of functional traits and growth rates? (2) Does the magnitude of plasticity depend on the type of resource? (3) Do functional traits and growth rates vary in the magnitude of plasticity exhibited? (4) Is plasticity in functional traits correlated with plasticity in growth rates? Overall the results show that clay specialists and generalists are more plastic than their sandy loam counterparts. Second, on average plasticity due to light was greater than plasticity due to soil. Third, growth rates were generally more plastic than functional traits. And finally, the plasticity of functional traits and growth rates were positively correlated. These finding add important insights to the plastic response of long-lived tree species to the environment, where much remains to be explored.

Adviser: Sabrina E. Russo