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Quantifying and scaling global plant trait diversity

TRY is a network of vegetation scientists headed by
Future Earth, the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, and iDiv
providing free and open access to plant trait data.

Database version 5 online (2019-03-26)
11,850,781 trait records
279,875 plant taxa
214 publications


Activity Report (2019-12-02)
In November 2019, TRY received 282 requests and released 63.7 million trait data (new record again) for 277 requests (new record too); 5 new publications were reported. This brings the totals to 7825 received requests, 893 million trait records released for 6709 requests, and 280 recorded publications (link)

Paper published (2019-11-18)
Hejda et al: Impacts of dominant plant species on trait composition of communities: comparison between the native and invaded ranges. Ecosphere (link)

5 Billion Data Released (2019-11-05)
As of today, TRY has released more than 5 billion data, 837 million trait records and 4.2 billion auxiliary data. (link)

Google Maps replaced by Open Street Maps (2019-08-02)
The maps in the TRY Data Explorer are no longer based on Google Maps. TRY is using Open Street Maps now. (link)

Paper published (2019-04-04)
Moradi and Oldeland: Climatic stress drives plant functional diversity in the Alborz Mountains, Iran. Ecological Research (link)

News Archive

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Global imprint of mycorrhizal fungi on whole-plant nutrient economics

__Most plants on Earth form a symbiosis with root-associated (i.e., mycorrhizal) fungi, trading plant photosynthate for fungal-acquired soil nutrients. Ecologists have long thought that different types of mycorrhizal fungi—arbuscular vs. ectomycorrhizal—represent adaptations to high vs. low soil nutrient availability. Here we show that these different mycorrhizal associations are linked to differences in a suite of plant traits related to nutrient economic strategies. Ectomycorrhizal plant species are more nutrient use-conservative than arbuscular mycorrhizal plant species, an effect that is robust to controlling for plant growth form and evolutionary history. These findings bolster emerging theories in ecosystem ecology that leverage the ecology of mycorrhizal fungi to better predict ecosystem carbon-nutrient cycle interactions (Averill et al. 2019 PNAS).

Inferring plant functional diversity from space: the potential of Sentinel-2

__Plant functional diversity (FD) is an important component of biodiversity that characterizes the variability of functional traits within a community, landscape, or even large spatial scales. It can influence ecosystem processes and stability. Hence, it is important to understand how and why FD varies within and between ecosystems, along resource availability gradients and climate gradients, and across vegetation successional stages. Usually, FD is assessed through labor-intensive field measurements, while assessing FD from space may provide a way to monitor global FD changes in a consistent, time and resource-efficient way. The potential of operational satellites for inferring FD, however, remains to be demonstrated. Here we studied the relationships between FD and spectral reflectance measurements taken by ESAs Sentinel-2 satellite over 117 field plots located in 6 European countries, with 46 plots having in-situ sampled leaf traits and the other 71 using traits from the TRY database. Based on spaceborne observations we could predict 55% of the variation in the observed FDis. The novelty of this study is the effective integration of space-borne and in-situ measurements at a continental scale, and hence represents a key step towards achieving rapid global biodiversity monitoring schemes. (Ma et al. 2019 Remote Sensing of Environment)

A major alien tree filters understory plant traits in novel forest ecosystems

__The abandonment of agricultural use is a common driver of spontaneous reforestation by alien trees. The N-fixing black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia L.) is a major alien invader of old fields in Europe. In their work, published in the journal Scientific Reports in 2018, the authors show that canopy dominance by this tree may filter the frequency distribution of plant functional traits in the understory of secondary woodlands. Higher soil C/N ratio and available P have been found to be associated with black locust stands, while higher soil phenols associated with native tree stands. These environmental effects result in differences in understory flowering periods, reproduction types and life forms. These findings emphasize the effect of a major alien tree on functional plant trait composition in the early stages of spontaneous reforestation of abandoned lands, implying the development of a novel forest ecosystem on a large geographical scale. (Sitzia et al. 2019 Scientific Reports)

Global trait–environment relationships of plant communities

__Plant functional traits directly affect ecosystem functions. At the species level, trait combinations depend on trade-offs representing different ecological strategies, but at the community level trait combinations are expected to be decoupled from these trade-offs because different strategies can facilitate co-existence within communities. A key question is to what extent community-level trait composition is globally filtered and how well it is related to global versus local environmental drivers. Here, the authors perform a global, plot-level analysis of trait–environment relationships, using a database with more than 1.1 million vegetation plots and 26,632 plant species with trait information. Although the authors find a strong filtering of 17 functional traits, similar climate conditions support communities differing greatly in mean trait values. The results indicate that, at fine spatial grain, macro-environmental drivers are much less important for functional trait composition than has been assumed from floristic analyses of large grid cells. Instead, trait combinations seem to be predominantly filtered by local-scale factors such as disturbance, soil conditions, niche partitioning and biotic interactions. (Bruelheide et al. 2018 Nature Ecology and Evolution)

A methodology to derive global maps of leaf traits using remote sensing and climate data

__This paper introduces a modular processing chain to derive global high-resolution maps of leaf traits. The paper presents global maps at 500 m resolution of specific leaf area, leaf dry matter content, leaf nitrogen and phosphorus content per dry mass, and leaf nitrogen/phosphorus ratio. The processing chain exploits machine learning techniques along with optical remote sensing data (MODIS/Landsat) and climate data for gap filling and up-scaling of in-situ measured leaf traits. (Moreno-Martinez et al. 2018 Remote Sensing of Environment)

Plant functional trait change across a warming tundra biome

__Until now, the Arctic tundra has been the domain of low-growing grasses and dwarf shrubs. Defying the harsh conditions, these plants huddle close to the ground and often grow only a few centimeters high. But new, taller plant species have been slowly taking over this chilly neighborhood, report an international group of nearly 130 biologists led by scientists from the German Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre and the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) today in Nature. This has led to an overall increase in the height of tundra plant communities over the past three decades. (Bjorkman et al. 2018 Nature)

Late Quaternary climate legacies in contemporary plant functional composition

__Climate may determine functional composition if there is variation in the rates of immigration and exclusion linked to functional traits. The authors show strong Pleistocene legacies on the contemporary functional composition in the New World plant assemblages consistent with slow community assembly processes. (Blonder et al. 2018 Global Change Biology)

Symbiont switching and alternative resource acquisition strategies drive mutualism breakdown

__Cooperative interactions among species—mutualisms—are major sources of evolutionary innovation. However, despite their importance, two species that formerly cooperated sometimes cease their partnership. Why do mutualisms break down? We asked this question in the partnership between arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi and their plant hosts, one of the most ancient mutualisms. We analyze two potential trajectories toward evolutionary breakdown of their cooperation, symbiont switching and mutualism abandonment. We find evidence that plants stop interacting with AM fungi when they switch to other microbial mutualists or when they evolve alternative strategies to extract nutrients from the environment. Our results show vital cooperative interactions can be lost, but only if successful alternatives evolve. (Werner et al. 2018 PNAS)

Disclaimer Page calls: 365237 Gerhard Boenisch, Jens Kattge, created 2012-01-11, modified 2019-03-27