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      The global spectrum of plant form and function.

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          Earth is home to a remarkable diversity of plant forms and life histories, yet comparatively few essential trait combinations have proved evolutionarily viable in today's terrestrial biosphere. By analysing worldwide variation in six major traits critical to growth, survival and reproduction within the largest sample of vascular plant species ever compiled, we found that occupancy of six-dimensional trait space is strongly concentrated, indicating coordination and trade-offs. Three-quarters of trait variation is captured in a two-dimensional global spectrum of plant form and function. One major dimension within this plane reflects the size of whole plants and their parts; the other represents the leaf economics spectrum, which balances leaf construction costs against growth potential. The global plant trait spectrum provides a backdrop for elucidating constraints on evolution, for functionally qualifying species and ecosystems, and for improving models that predict future vegetation based on continuous variation in plant form and function.

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          Towards a worldwide wood economics spectrum.

          Wood performs several essential functions in plants, including mechanically supporting aboveground tissue, storing water and other resources, and transporting sap. Woody tissues are likely to face physiological, structural and defensive trade-offs. How a plant optimizes among these competing functions can have major ecological implications, which have been under-appreciated by ecologists compared to the focus they have given to leaf function. To draw together our current understanding of wood function, we identify and collate data on the major wood functional traits, including the largest wood density database to date (8412 taxa), mechanical strength measures and anatomical features, as well as clade-specific features such as secondary chemistry. We then show how wood traits are related to one another, highlighting functional trade-offs, and to ecological and demographic plant features (growth form, growth rate, latitude, ecological setting). We suggest that, similar to the manifold that tree species leaf traits cluster around the 'leaf economics spectrum', a similar 'wood economics spectrum' may be defined. We then discuss the biogeography, evolution and biogeochemistry of the spectrum, and conclude by pointing out the major gaps in our current knowledge of wood functional traits.
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            Plant Ecological Strategies: Some Leading Dimensions of Variation Between Species

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              From tropics to tundra: global convergence in plant functioning.

              Despite striking differences in climate, soils, and evolutionary history among diverse biomes ranging from tropical and temperate forests to alpine tundra and desert, we found similar interspecific relationships among leaf structure and function and plant growth in all biomes. Our results thus demonstrate convergent evolution and global generality in plant functioning, despite the enormous diversity of plant species and biomes. For 280 plant species from two global data sets, we found that potential carbon gain (photosynthesis) and carbon loss (respiration) increase in similar proportion with decreasing leaf life-span, increasing leaf nitrogen concentration, and increasing leaf surface area-to-mass ratio. Productivity of individual plants and of leaves in vegetation canopies also changes in constant proportion to leaf life-span and surface area-to-mass ratio. These global plant functional relationships have significant implications for global scale modeling of vegetation-atmosphere CO2 exchange.

                Author and article information

                Jan 14 2016
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                [1 ] Instituto Multidisciplinario de Biología Vegetal (IMBIV), CONICET and FCEFyN, Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, Casilla de Correo 495, 5000 Córdoba, Argentina.
                [2 ] Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Hans-Knöll-Straße 10, 07745 Jena, Germany.
                [3 ] German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig, Deutscher Platz 5e, 04103 Leipzig, Germany.
                [4 ] Systems Ecology, Department of Ecological Science, Vrije Universiteit, De Boelelaan 1085, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
                [5 ] Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, Sydney, New South Wales 2109, Australia.
                [6 ] Laboratoire d'Ecologie Alpine, UMR 5553, CNRS - Université Grenoble Alpes, 38041 Grenoble Cedex 9, France.
                [7 ] Laboratoire de Biométrie et Biologie Evolutive, UMR5558, Université Lyon 1, CNRS, F-69622 Villeurbanne, France.
                [8 ] Institute of Biology, University of Leipzig, Johannisallee 21, 04103 Leipzig, Germany.
                [9 ] Escuela de Biología, Universidad Industrial de Santander, Cra. 27 Calle 9, 680002 Bucaramanga, Colombia.
                [10 ] Landscape Ecology Group, Institute of Biology and Environmental Sciences, University of Oldenburg, D-26111 Oldenburg, Germany.
                [11 ] Department of Systematic Botany and Functional Biodiversity, University of Leipzig, Johannisallee 21, 04103 Leipzig, Germany.
                [12 ] AXA Chair in Biosphere and Climate Impacts, Grand Challenges in Ecosystems and the Environment and Grantham Institute - Climate Change and the Environment, Department of Life Sciences, Imperial College London, Silwood Park Campus, Buckhurst Road, Ascot SL5 7PY, UK.
                [13 ] Centre d'Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive (UMR 5175), CNRS-Université de Montpellier - Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier - EPHE, 34293 Montpellier Cedex 5, France.
                [14 ] Plant Sciences (IBG-2), Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH, D-52425 Jülich, Germany.
                [15 ] Department of Forest Resources, University of Minnesota, St Paul, Minnesota 55108, USA.
                [16 ] Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment, University of Western Sydney, Penrith New South Wales 2751, Australia.
                [17 ] Evolution &Ecology Research Centre, School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, UNSW Australia, Sydney, New South Wales 2052, Australia.
                [18 ] Collections , The Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Wakehurst Place, Ardingly, West Sussex, RH17 6TN, UK.
                [19 ] Center for Biodiversity Management, P.O. Box 120, Yungaburra, Queensland 4884, Australia.
                [20 ] Department of Biological Sciences, George Washington University, Washington DC 20052, USA.
                [21 ] Center for Conservation and Sustainable Development, Missouri Botanical Garden, St Louis, Missouri 63121, USA.
                [22 ] UMR 5174 Laboratoire Evolution et Diversité Biologique, CNRS &Université Paul Sabatier, Toulouse 31062, France.
                [23 ] Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Apartado 0843-03092, Balboa, Ancón, Panama.
                [24 ] Komarov Botanical Institute, Prof. Popov Street 2, St Petersburg 197376, Russia.
                [25 ] INRA, UMR1202 BIOGECO, F-33610 Cestas, France.
                [26 ] Université de Bordeaux, BIOGECO, UMR 1202, F-33600 Pessac, France.
                [27 ] International Center for Tropical Botany, Department of Biological Sciences, Florida International University, Miami, Florida 33199, USA.
                [28 ] INRA, UMR Ecologie des Forêts de Guyane, 97310 Kourou, French Guiana.
                [29 ] Department of Theoretical and Applied Sciences, University of Insubria, Via J.H. Dunant 3, I-21100 Varese, Italy.
                [30 ] Department of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (DiSAA), University of Milan, Via G. Celoria 2, I-20133 Milan, Italy.
                [31 ] Département de biologie, Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, Quebec J1K 2R1, Canada.
                [32 ] Biodiversity Informatics and Spatial Analysis, Jodrell Building, The Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Richmond TW9 3AB, UK.
                [33 ] Unidad de Bioestadística, Centro Agronómico Tropical de Investigación y Enseñanza (CATIE), 7170 Turrialba, 30501, Costa Rica.


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