Coexisting Sedges Are Functionally Similar, But Are They Distantly Related In Evolutionary History?
Weiher, Evan R.
Schafer, Tabitha M.
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A classic study lead by Jeannine Cavender-Bares (Cavender-Bares et al. 2004) showed that coexisting oak trees in Florida tend to be more functionally similar and more phylogenetically diverse compared to a random model. This means that certain functional traits associated with habitat filtering evolved convergently multiple times for these oaks. It is not known if other plants have undergone similar evolutionary and ecological selection. This drove the 2017 summer research cohort to determine if Wisconsin sedges have a similar evolutionary history as Florida oaks. We aim to apply Cavender-Bares’ method of measuring functional similarity to our study of coexisting sedges. Sedges (genus Carex) are a hyperdiverse genus (~160 species in Wisconsin) that live in every habitat throughout the state, making them a strong candidate for measuring and comparing functional traits across a large environmental range.