Phenotypic plasticity to light and nutrient availability alters functional trait ranking across eight perennial grassland species

Species ranking in trait values depends on resource availability (copyright: Siebenkäs et al. 2015)
Species ranking in trait values depends on resource availability (copyright: Siebenkäs et al. 2015)

Functional traits are often used as species-specific means in trait-based predictions of ecosystem processes, assuming that interspecific differences are greater than intraspecific trait variation. Although this assumption is increasingly challenged, there is lack of knowledge regarding the extent to which intraspecific trait variation in response to varying environmental conditions depends on the considered traits and the characteristics of the studied species. In a new study published in AoB PLANTS, Siebenkäs et al. grew eight perennial grassland species representing two functional groups (grasses vs. forbs) and growth statures (small vs. tall) under different light and nutrient availability. The strength of trait variation in response to resource availability differed among functional groups and growth statures in many aboveground traits, while being more consistent in belowground traits. The results, showing the dependency of trait-based species ranking on environmental conditions, limit the applicability of species-specific mean trait values in ecological studies.


AoB PLANTS is an open-access, online journal that publishes peer-reviewed articles on all aspects of environmental and evolutionary biology. Published by Oxford University Press, AoB PLANTS provides a fast-track pathway for publishing high-quality research, where papers are available online to anyone, anywhere free of charge. Reasons to publish in AoB PLANTS include double-blind peer review of manuscripts, rapid processing time and low open-access charges.

Read this in your language

The Week in Botany

On Monday mornings we send out a newsletter of the links that have been catching the attention of our readers on Twitter and beyond. You can sign up to receive it below.

@BotanyOne on Mastodon

Loading Mastodon feed...