Research Topic

Functional Ecology and Conservation of Palms

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About this Research Topic

Palms (Arecaceae) represent one of the most ecologically important and taxonomically diverse plant groups. They contribute to species and food web diversity, are key structural components (especially in tropical environments) and are widely used by humans for economic and cultural purposes. Despite their ...

Palms (Arecaceae) represent one of the most ecologically important and taxonomically diverse plant groups. They contribute to species and food web diversity, are key structural components (especially in tropical environments) and are widely used by humans for economic and cultural purposes. Despite their importance, we know relatively little about how palms functionally adapt to environmental gradients across ecosystems. Having only primary meristems, palms are constructed very differently from trees. Their tissues push the limits of plant cells to reach tree-like heights, and maintain prolonged functionality, resisting wind, fire, water stress, and pathogens. Little is known about the functional mechanisms involved in morphological and physiological adaptation to environmental gradients, especially the role of biotic interactions determining the geographic distribution of palms at local and regional scales. Due to their ubiquity in many ecosystems, species diversity, and functional roles, palms are ideal organisms to analyze the mechanistic basis of plant responses to climate change.

The objective of this Research Topic is to summarize the functional role of palms across ecosystems from a variety of perspectives and temporal and spatial scales, including the physiological functioning of palms, their variation in functional characters, their role in biotic interactions, mechanisms to adapt in structure and function to environmental gradients including genetically-mediated adaptation patterns, and the way in which these multiple processes are expected to vary with climate change. We expect authors to identify areas of research to fill gaps in the understanding of the functional role of palms.

We welcome authors to contribute to the following areas:
• Biotic interactions influencing the geographic distribution of palms
• Mechanisms of palm adaptation to edaphic gradients including the influence of soil nitrogen and phosphorus determining palm distribution, and palm structure and allometry
• Role of palms in food webs within the context of climate change
• How palm functional characters influence palm distribution
• The physiological ecology of palms: current knowledge and future research
• Genetic differentiation among populations and adaptation to changing environmental gradients
• Analysis of the phylogenetic structure of palm communities in changing environments


Keywords: Functional Ecology, Palms, Arecaceae, Physiology, Biotic Interactions, Climate Change, Palm Adaptation, Food Webs, Genetic Differentiation, Phylogenetic structure


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