Global relationships in tree functional traits

Maynard, D.S. and Bialic-Murphy, L. and Zohner, C.M. and Averill, C. and van den Hoogen, J. and Ma, H. and Mo, L. and Smith, G.R. and Acosta, A.T.R. and Aubin, I. and Berenguer, E. and Boonman, C.C.F. and Catford, J.A. and Cerabolini, B.E.L. and Dias, A.S. and González-Melo, A. and Hietz, P. and Lusk, C.H. and Mori, A.S. and Niinemets, Ü. and Pillar, V.D. and Pinho, B.X. and Rosell, J.A. and Schurr, F.M. and Sheremetev, S.N. and da Silva, A.C. and Sosinski, Ê. and van Bodegom, P.M. and Weiher, E. and Bönisch, G. and Kattge, J. and Crowther, T.W. (2022) Global relationships in tree functional traits. Nature Communications, 13 (1). ISSN 2041-1723

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Due to massive energetic investments in woody support structures, trees are subject to unique physiological, mechanical, and ecological pressures not experienced by herbaceous plants. Despite a wealth of studies exploring trait relationships across the entire plant kingdom, the dominant traits underpinning these unique aspects of tree form and function remain unclear. Here, by considering 18 functional traits, encompassing leaf, seed, bark, wood, crown, and root characteristics, we quantify the multidimensional relationships in tree trait expression. We find that nearly half of trait variation is captured by two axes: one reflecting leaf economics, the other reflecting tree size and competition for light. Yet these orthogonal axes reveal strong environmental convergence, exhibiting correlated responses to temperature, moisture, and elevation. By subsequently exploring multidimensional trait relationships, we show that the full dimensionality of trait space is captured by eight distinct clusters, each reflecting a unique aspect of tree form and function. Collectively, this work identifies a core set of traits needed to quantify global patterns in functional biodiversity, and it contributes to our fundamental understanding of the functioning of forests worldwide.

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Journal Article
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Nature Communications
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Deposited On:
15 Aug 2022 14:35
Last Modified:
16 Sep 2023 02:31