TRY - a global database of plant traits

J. Kattge, S. Díaz, S. Lavorel, I. C. Prentice, P. Leadley, G. Bönisch, E. Garnier, M. Westoby, P. B. Reich, I. J. Wright, J. H C Cornelissen, C. Violle, S. P. Harrison, P. M. Van Bodegom, M. Reichstein, Brian Enquist, N. A. Soudzilovskaia, D. D. Ackerly, M. Anand, O. AtkinM. Bahn, T. R. Baker, D. Baldocchi, R. Bekker, C. C. Blanco, B. Blonder, W. J. Bond, R. Bradstock, D. E. Bunker, F. Casanoves, J. Cavender-Bares, J. Q. Chambers, F. S. Chapin, J. Chave, D. Coomes, W. K. Cornwell, J. M. Craine, B. H. Dobrin, L. Duarte, W. Durka, J. Elser, G. Esser, M. Estiarte, W. F. Fagan, J. Fang, F. Fernández-Méndez, A. Fidelis, B. Finegan, O. Flores, H. Ford, D. Frank, G. T. Freschet, N. M. Fyllas, R. V. Gallagher, W. A. Green, A. G. Gutierrez, T. Hickler, S. I. Higgins, J. G. Hodgson, A. Jalili, S. Jansen, C. A. Joly, A. J. Kerkhoff, D. Kirkup, K. Kitajima, M. Kleyer, S. Klotz, J. M H Knops, K. Kramer, I. Kühn, H. Kurokawa, D. Laughlin, T. D. Lee, M. Leishman, F. Lens, T. Lenz, S. L. Lewis, J. Lloyd, J. Llusià, F. Louault, S. Ma, M. D. Mahecha, P. Manning, T. Massad, B. E. Medlyn, J. Messier, A. T. Moles, S. C. Müller, K. Nadrowski, S. Naeem, Ü Niinemets, S. Nöllert, A. Nüske, R. Ogaya, J. Oleksyn, V. G. Onipchenko, Y. Onoda, J. Ordoñez, G. Overbeck, W. A. Ozinga, S. Patiño, S. Paula, J. G. Pausas, J. Peñuelas, O. L. Phillips, V. Pillar, H. Poorter, L. Poorter, P. Poschlod, A. Prinzing, R. Proulx, A. Rammig, S. Reinsch, B. Reu, L. Sack, B. Salgado-Negret, J. Sardans, S. Shiodera, B. Shipley, A. Siefert, E. Sosinski, J. F. Soussana, E. Swaine, N. Swenson, K. Thompson, P. Thornton, M. Waldram, E. Weiher, M. White, S. White, S. J. Wright, B. Yguel, S. Zaehle, A. E. Zanne, C. Wirth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1117 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Plant traits - the morphological, anatomical, physiological, biochemical and phenological characteristics of plants and their organs - determine how primary producers respond to environmental factors, affect other trophic levels, influence ecosystem processes and services and provide a link from species richness to ecosystem functional diversity. Trait data thus represent the raw material for a wide range of research from evolutionary biology, community and functional ecology to biogeography. Here we present the global database initiative named TRY, which has united a wide range of the plant trait research community worldwide and gained an unprecedented buy-in of trait data: so far 93 trait databases have been contributed. The data repository currently contains almost three million trait entries for 69000 out of the world's 300000 plant species, with a focus on 52 groups of traits characterizing the vegetative and regeneration stages of the plant life cycle, including growth, dispersal, establishment and persistence. A first data analysis shows that most plant traits are approximately log-normally distributed, with widely differing ranges of variation across traits. Most trait variation is between species (interspecific), but significant intraspecific variation is also documented, up to 40% of the overall variation. Plant functional types (PFTs), as commonly used in vegetation models, capture a substantial fraction of the observed variation - but for several traits most variation occurs within PFTs, up to 75% of the overall variation. In the context of vegetation models these traits would better be represented by state variables rather than fixed parameter values. The improved availability of plant trait data in the unified global database is expected to support a paradigm shift from species to trait-based ecology, offer new opportunities for synthetic plant trait research and enable a more realistic and empirically grounded representation of terrestrial vegetation in Earth system models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2905-2935
Number of pages31
JournalGlobal Change Biology
Volume17
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2011

Fingerprint

Ecology
Ecosystems
Life cycle
Raw materials
Earth (planet)
Availability
vegetation
ecology
paradigm shift
ecosystem
evolutionary biology
intraspecific variation
biogeography
repository
trophic level
environmental factor
life cycle
persistence
regeneration
species richness

Keywords

  • Comparative ecology
  • Database
  • Environmental gradient
  • Functional diversity
  • Global analysis
  • Global change
  • Interspecific variation
  • Intraspecific variation
  • Plant attribute
  • Plant functional type
  • Plant trait
  • Vegetation model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry

Cite this

Kattge, J., Díaz, S., Lavorel, S., Prentice, I. C., Leadley, P., Bönisch, G., ... Wirth, C. (2011). TRY - a global database of plant traits. Global Change Biology, 17(9), 2905-2935. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2486.2011.02451.x

TRY - a global database of plant traits. / Kattge, J.; Díaz, S.; Lavorel, S.; Prentice, I. C.; Leadley, P.; Bönisch, G.; Garnier, E.; Westoby, M.; Reich, P. B.; Wright, I. J.; Cornelissen, J. H C; Violle, C.; Harrison, S. P.; Van Bodegom, P. M.; Reichstein, M.; Enquist, Brian; Soudzilovskaia, N. A.; Ackerly, D. D.; Anand, M.; Atkin, O.; Bahn, M.; Baker, T. R.; Baldocchi, D.; Bekker, R.; Blanco, C. C.; Blonder, B.; Bond, W. J.; Bradstock, R.; Bunker, D. E.; Casanoves, F.; Cavender-Bares, J.; Chambers, J. Q.; Chapin, F. S.; Chave, J.; Coomes, D.; Cornwell, W. K.; Craine, J. M.; Dobrin, B. H.; Duarte, L.; Durka, W.; Elser, J.; Esser, G.; Estiarte, M.; Fagan, W. F.; Fang, J.; Fernández-Méndez, F.; Fidelis, A.; Finegan, B.; Flores, O.; Ford, H.; Frank, D.; Freschet, G. T.; Fyllas, N. M.; Gallagher, R. V.; Green, W. A.; Gutierrez, A. G.; Hickler, T.; Higgins, S. I.; Hodgson, J. G.; Jalili, A.; Jansen, S.; Joly, C. A.; Kerkhoff, A. J.; Kirkup, D.; Kitajima, K.; Kleyer, M.; Klotz, S.; Knops, J. M H; Kramer, K.; Kühn, I.; Kurokawa, H.; Laughlin, D.; Lee, T. D.; Leishman, M.; Lens, F.; Lenz, T.; Lewis, S. L.; Lloyd, J.; Llusià, J.; Louault, F.; Ma, S.; Mahecha, M. D.; Manning, P.; Massad, T.; Medlyn, B. E.; Messier, J.; Moles, A. T.; Müller, S. C.; Nadrowski, K.; Naeem, S.; Niinemets, Ü; Nöllert, S.; Nüske, A.; Ogaya, R.; Oleksyn, J.; Onipchenko, V. G.; Onoda, Y.; Ordoñez, J.; Overbeck, G.; Ozinga, W. A.; Patiño, S.; Paula, S.; Pausas, J. G.; Peñuelas, J.; Phillips, O. L.; Pillar, V.; Poorter, H.; Poorter, L.; Poschlod, P.; Prinzing, A.; Proulx, R.; Rammig, A.; Reinsch, S.; Reu, B.; Sack, L.; Salgado-Negret, B.; Sardans, J.; Shiodera, S.; Shipley, B.; Siefert, A.; Sosinski, E.; Soussana, J. F.; Swaine, E.; Swenson, N.; Thompson, K.; Thornton, P.; Waldram, M.; Weiher, E.; White, M.; White, S.; Wright, S. J.; Yguel, B.; Zaehle, S.; Zanne, A. E.; Wirth, C.

In: Global Change Biology, Vol. 17, No. 9, 09.2011, p. 2905-2935.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Kattge, J, Díaz, S, Lavorel, S, Prentice, IC, Leadley, P, Bönisch, G, Garnier, E, Westoby, M, Reich, PB, Wright, IJ, Cornelissen, JHC, Violle, C, Harrison, SP, Van Bodegom, PM, Reichstein, M, Enquist, B, Soudzilovskaia, NA, Ackerly, DD, Anand, M, Atkin, O, Bahn, M, Baker, TR, Baldocchi, D, Bekker, R, Blanco, CC, Blonder, B, Bond, WJ, Bradstock, R, Bunker, DE, Casanoves, F, Cavender-Bares, J, Chambers, JQ, Chapin, FS, Chave, J, Coomes, D, Cornwell, WK, Craine, JM, Dobrin, BH, Duarte, L, Durka, W, Elser, J, Esser, G, Estiarte, M, Fagan, WF, Fang, J, Fernández-Méndez, F, Fidelis, A, Finegan, B, Flores, O, Ford, H, Frank, D, Freschet, GT, Fyllas, NM, Gallagher, RV, Green, WA, Gutierrez, AG, Hickler, T, Higgins, SI, Hodgson, JG, Jalili, A, Jansen, S, Joly, CA, Kerkhoff, AJ, Kirkup, D, Kitajima, K, Kleyer, M, Klotz, S, Knops, JMH, Kramer, K, Kühn, I, Kurokawa, H, Laughlin, D, Lee, TD, Leishman, M, Lens, F, Lenz, T, Lewis, SL, Lloyd, J, Llusià, J, Louault, F, Ma, S, Mahecha, MD, Manning, P, Massad, T, Medlyn, BE, Messier, J, Moles, AT, Müller, SC, Nadrowski, K, Naeem, S, Niinemets, Ü, Nöllert, S, Nüske, A, Ogaya, R, Oleksyn, J, Onipchenko, VG, Onoda, Y, Ordoñez, J, Overbeck, G, Ozinga, WA, Patiño, S, Paula, S, Pausas, JG, Peñuelas, J, Phillips, OL, Pillar, V, Poorter, H, Poorter, L, Poschlod, P, Prinzing, A, Proulx, R, Rammig, A, Reinsch, S, Reu, B, Sack, L, Salgado-Negret, B, Sardans, J, Shiodera, S, Shipley, B, Siefert, A, Sosinski, E, Soussana, JF, Swaine, E, Swenson, N, Thompson, K, Thornton, P, Waldram, M, Weiher, E, White, M, White, S, Wright, SJ, Yguel, B, Zaehle, S, Zanne, AE & Wirth, C 2011, 'TRY - a global database of plant traits', Global Change Biology, vol. 17, no. 9, pp. 2905-2935. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2486.2011.02451.x
Kattge J, Díaz S, Lavorel S, Prentice IC, Leadley P, Bönisch G et al. TRY - a global database of plant traits. Global Change Biology. 2011 Sep;17(9):2905-2935. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2486.2011.02451.x
Kattge, J. ; Díaz, S. ; Lavorel, S. ; Prentice, I. C. ; Leadley, P. ; Bönisch, G. ; Garnier, E. ; Westoby, M. ; Reich, P. B. ; Wright, I. J. ; Cornelissen, J. H C ; Violle, C. ; Harrison, S. P. ; Van Bodegom, P. M. ; Reichstein, M. ; Enquist, Brian ; Soudzilovskaia, N. A. ; Ackerly, D. D. ; Anand, M. ; Atkin, O. ; Bahn, M. ; Baker, T. R. ; Baldocchi, D. ; Bekker, R. ; Blanco, C. C. ; Blonder, B. ; Bond, W. J. ; Bradstock, R. ; Bunker, D. E. ; Casanoves, F. ; Cavender-Bares, J. ; Chambers, J. Q. ; Chapin, F. S. ; Chave, J. ; Coomes, D. ; Cornwell, W. K. ; Craine, J. M. ; Dobrin, B. H. ; Duarte, L. ; Durka, W. ; Elser, J. ; Esser, G. ; Estiarte, M. ; Fagan, W. F. ; Fang, J. ; Fernández-Méndez, F. ; Fidelis, A. ; Finegan, B. ; Flores, O. ; Ford, H. ; Frank, D. ; Freschet, G. T. ; Fyllas, N. M. ; Gallagher, R. V. ; Green, W. A. ; Gutierrez, A. G. ; Hickler, T. ; Higgins, S. I. ; Hodgson, J. G. ; Jalili, A. ; Jansen, S. ; Joly, C. A. ; Kerkhoff, A. J. ; Kirkup, D. ; Kitajima, K. ; Kleyer, M. ; Klotz, S. ; Knops, J. M H ; Kramer, K. ; Kühn, I. ; Kurokawa, H. ; Laughlin, D. ; Lee, T. D. ; Leishman, M. ; Lens, F. ; Lenz, T. ; Lewis, S. L. ; Lloyd, J. ; Llusià, J. ; Louault, F. ; Ma, S. ; Mahecha, M. D. ; Manning, P. ; Massad, T. ; Medlyn, B. E. ; Messier, J. ; Moles, A. T. ; Müller, S. C. ; Nadrowski, K. ; Naeem, S. ; Niinemets, Ü ; Nöllert, S. ; Nüske, A. ; Ogaya, R. ; Oleksyn, J. ; Onipchenko, V. G. ; Onoda, Y. ; Ordoñez, J. ; Overbeck, G. ; Ozinga, W. A. ; Patiño, S. ; Paula, S. ; Pausas, J. G. ; Peñuelas, J. ; Phillips, O. L. ; Pillar, V. ; Poorter, H. ; Poorter, L. ; Poschlod, P. ; Prinzing, A. ; Proulx, R. ; Rammig, A. ; Reinsch, S. ; Reu, B. ; Sack, L. ; Salgado-Negret, B. ; Sardans, J. ; Shiodera, S. ; Shipley, B. ; Siefert, A. ; Sosinski, E. ; Soussana, J. F. ; Swaine, E. ; Swenson, N. ; Thompson, K. ; Thornton, P. ; Waldram, M. ; Weiher, E. ; White, M. ; White, S. ; Wright, S. J. ; Yguel, B. ; Zaehle, S. ; Zanne, A. E. ; Wirth, C. / TRY - a global database of plant traits. In: Global Change Biology. 2011 ; Vol. 17, No. 9. pp. 2905-2935.
@article{c113d136d0cb4e9fb82456b2ae4aa31e,
title = "TRY - a global database of plant traits",
abstract = "Plant traits - the morphological, anatomical, physiological, biochemical and phenological characteristics of plants and their organs - determine how primary producers respond to environmental factors, affect other trophic levels, influence ecosystem processes and services and provide a link from species richness to ecosystem functional diversity. Trait data thus represent the raw material for a wide range of research from evolutionary biology, community and functional ecology to biogeography. Here we present the global database initiative named TRY, which has united a wide range of the plant trait research community worldwide and gained an unprecedented buy-in of trait data: so far 93 trait databases have been contributed. The data repository currently contains almost three million trait entries for 69000 out of the world's 300000 plant species, with a focus on 52 groups of traits characterizing the vegetative and regeneration stages of the plant life cycle, including growth, dispersal, establishment and persistence. A first data analysis shows that most plant traits are approximately log-normally distributed, with widely differing ranges of variation across traits. Most trait variation is between species (interspecific), but significant intraspecific variation is also documented, up to 40{\%} of the overall variation. Plant functional types (PFTs), as commonly used in vegetation models, capture a substantial fraction of the observed variation - but for several traits most variation occurs within PFTs, up to 75{\%} of the overall variation. In the context of vegetation models these traits would better be represented by state variables rather than fixed parameter values. The improved availability of plant trait data in the unified global database is expected to support a paradigm shift from species to trait-based ecology, offer new opportunities for synthetic plant trait research and enable a more realistic and empirically grounded representation of terrestrial vegetation in Earth system models.",
keywords = "Comparative ecology, Database, Environmental gradient, Functional diversity, Global analysis, Global change, Interspecific variation, Intraspecific variation, Plant attribute, Plant functional type, Plant trait, Vegetation model",
author = "J. Kattge and S. D{\'i}az and S. Lavorel and Prentice, {I. C.} and P. Leadley and G. B{\"o}nisch and E. Garnier and M. Westoby and Reich, {P. B.} and Wright, {I. J.} and Cornelissen, {J. H C} and C. Violle and Harrison, {S. P.} and {Van Bodegom}, {P. M.} and M. Reichstein and Brian Enquist and Soudzilovskaia, {N. A.} and Ackerly, {D. D.} and M. Anand and O. Atkin and M. Bahn and Baker, {T. R.} and D. Baldocchi and R. Bekker and Blanco, {C. C.} and B. Blonder and Bond, {W. J.} and R. Bradstock and Bunker, {D. E.} and F. Casanoves and J. Cavender-Bares and Chambers, {J. Q.} and Chapin, {F. S.} and J. Chave and D. Coomes and Cornwell, {W. K.} and Craine, {J. M.} and Dobrin, {B. H.} and L. Duarte and W. Durka and J. Elser and G. Esser and M. Estiarte and Fagan, {W. F.} and J. Fang and F. Fern{\'a}ndez-M{\'e}ndez and A. Fidelis and B. Finegan and O. Flores and H. Ford and D. Frank and Freschet, {G. T.} and Fyllas, {N. M.} and Gallagher, {R. V.} and Green, {W. A.} and Gutierrez, {A. G.} and T. Hickler and Higgins, {S. I.} and Hodgson, {J. G.} and A. Jalili and S. Jansen and Joly, {C. A.} and Kerkhoff, {A. J.} and D. Kirkup and K. Kitajima and M. Kleyer and S. Klotz and Knops, {J. M H} and K. Kramer and I. K{\"u}hn and H. Kurokawa and D. Laughlin and Lee, {T. D.} and M. Leishman and F. Lens and T. Lenz and Lewis, {S. L.} and J. Lloyd and J. Llusi{\`a} and F. Louault and S. Ma and Mahecha, {M. D.} and P. Manning and T. Massad and Medlyn, {B. E.} and J. Messier and Moles, {A. T.} and M{\"u}ller, {S. C.} and K. Nadrowski and S. Naeem and {\"U} Niinemets and S. N{\"o}llert and A. N{\"u}ske and R. Ogaya and J. Oleksyn and Onipchenko, {V. G.} and Y. Onoda and J. Ordo{\~n}ez and G. Overbeck and Ozinga, {W. A.} and S. Pati{\~n}o and S. Paula and Pausas, {J. G.} and J. Pe{\~n}uelas and Phillips, {O. L.} and V. Pillar and H. Poorter and L. Poorter and P. Poschlod and A. Prinzing and R. Proulx and A. Rammig and S. Reinsch and B. Reu and L. Sack and B. Salgado-Negret and J. Sardans and S. Shiodera and B. Shipley and A. Siefert and E. Sosinski and Soussana, {J. F.} and E. Swaine and N. Swenson and K. Thompson and P. Thornton and M. Waldram and E. Weiher and M. White and S. White and Wright, {S. J.} and B. Yguel and S. Zaehle and Zanne, {A. E.} and C. Wirth",
year = "2011",
month = "9",
doi = "10.1111/j.1365-2486.2011.02451.x",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "17",
pages = "2905--2935",
journal = "Global Change Biology",
issn = "1354-1013",
publisher = "Wiley-Blackwell",
number = "9",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - TRY - a global database of plant traits

AU - Kattge, J.

AU - Díaz, S.

AU - Lavorel, S.

AU - Prentice, I. C.

AU - Leadley, P.

AU - Bönisch, G.

AU - Garnier, E.

AU - Westoby, M.

AU - Reich, P. B.

AU - Wright, I. J.

AU - Cornelissen, J. H C

AU - Violle, C.

AU - Harrison, S. P.

AU - Van Bodegom, P. M.

AU - Reichstein, M.

AU - Enquist, Brian

AU - Soudzilovskaia, N. A.

AU - Ackerly, D. D.

AU - Anand, M.

AU - Atkin, O.

AU - Bahn, M.

AU - Baker, T. R.

AU - Baldocchi, D.

AU - Bekker, R.

AU - Blanco, C. C.

AU - Blonder, B.

AU - Bond, W. J.

AU - Bradstock, R.

AU - Bunker, D. E.

AU - Casanoves, F.

AU - Cavender-Bares, J.

AU - Chambers, J. Q.

AU - Chapin, F. S.

AU - Chave, J.

AU - Coomes, D.

AU - Cornwell, W. K.

AU - Craine, J. M.

AU - Dobrin, B. H.

AU - Duarte, L.

AU - Durka, W.

AU - Elser, J.

AU - Esser, G.

AU - Estiarte, M.

AU - Fagan, W. F.

AU - Fang, J.

AU - Fernández-Méndez, F.

AU - Fidelis, A.

AU - Finegan, B.

AU - Flores, O.

AU - Ford, H.

AU - Frank, D.

AU - Freschet, G. T.

AU - Fyllas, N. M.

AU - Gallagher, R. V.

AU - Green, W. A.

AU - Gutierrez, A. G.

AU - Hickler, T.

AU - Higgins, S. I.

AU - Hodgson, J. G.

AU - Jalili, A.

AU - Jansen, S.

AU - Joly, C. A.

AU - Kerkhoff, A. J.

AU - Kirkup, D.

AU - Kitajima, K.

AU - Kleyer, M.

AU - Klotz, S.

AU - Knops, J. M H

AU - Kramer, K.

AU - Kühn, I.

AU - Kurokawa, H.

AU - Laughlin, D.

AU - Lee, T. D.

AU - Leishman, M.

AU - Lens, F.

AU - Lenz, T.

AU - Lewis, S. L.

AU - Lloyd, J.

AU - Llusià, J.

AU - Louault, F.

AU - Ma, S.

AU - Mahecha, M. D.

AU - Manning, P.

AU - Massad, T.

AU - Medlyn, B. E.

AU - Messier, J.

AU - Moles, A. T.

AU - Müller, S. C.

AU - Nadrowski, K.

AU - Naeem, S.

AU - Niinemets, Ü

AU - Nöllert, S.

AU - Nüske, A.

AU - Ogaya, R.

AU - Oleksyn, J.

AU - Onipchenko, V. G.

AU - Onoda, Y.

AU - Ordoñez, J.

AU - Overbeck, G.

AU - Ozinga, W. A.

AU - Patiño, S.

AU - Paula, S.

AU - Pausas, J. G.

AU - Peñuelas, J.

AU - Phillips, O. L.

AU - Pillar, V.

AU - Poorter, H.

AU - Poorter, L.

AU - Poschlod, P.

AU - Prinzing, A.

AU - Proulx, R.

AU - Rammig, A.

AU - Reinsch, S.

AU - Reu, B.

AU - Sack, L.

AU - Salgado-Negret, B.

AU - Sardans, J.

AU - Shiodera, S.

AU - Shipley, B.

AU - Siefert, A.

AU - Sosinski, E.

AU - Soussana, J. F.

AU - Swaine, E.

AU - Swenson, N.

AU - Thompson, K.

AU - Thornton, P.

AU - Waldram, M.

AU - Weiher, E.

AU - White, M.

AU - White, S.

AU - Wright, S. J.

AU - Yguel, B.

AU - Zaehle, S.

AU - Zanne, A. E.

AU - Wirth, C.

PY - 2011/9

Y1 - 2011/9

N2 - Plant traits - the morphological, anatomical, physiological, biochemical and phenological characteristics of plants and their organs - determine how primary producers respond to environmental factors, affect other trophic levels, influence ecosystem processes and services and provide a link from species richness to ecosystem functional diversity. Trait data thus represent the raw material for a wide range of research from evolutionary biology, community and functional ecology to biogeography. Here we present the global database initiative named TRY, which has united a wide range of the plant trait research community worldwide and gained an unprecedented buy-in of trait data: so far 93 trait databases have been contributed. The data repository currently contains almost three million trait entries for 69000 out of the world's 300000 plant species, with a focus on 52 groups of traits characterizing the vegetative and regeneration stages of the plant life cycle, including growth, dispersal, establishment and persistence. A first data analysis shows that most plant traits are approximately log-normally distributed, with widely differing ranges of variation across traits. Most trait variation is between species (interspecific), but significant intraspecific variation is also documented, up to 40% of the overall variation. Plant functional types (PFTs), as commonly used in vegetation models, capture a substantial fraction of the observed variation - but for several traits most variation occurs within PFTs, up to 75% of the overall variation. In the context of vegetation models these traits would better be represented by state variables rather than fixed parameter values. The improved availability of plant trait data in the unified global database is expected to support a paradigm shift from species to trait-based ecology, offer new opportunities for synthetic plant trait research and enable a more realistic and empirically grounded representation of terrestrial vegetation in Earth system models.

AB - Plant traits - the morphological, anatomical, physiological, biochemical and phenological characteristics of plants and their organs - determine how primary producers respond to environmental factors, affect other trophic levels, influence ecosystem processes and services and provide a link from species richness to ecosystem functional diversity. Trait data thus represent the raw material for a wide range of research from evolutionary biology, community and functional ecology to biogeography. Here we present the global database initiative named TRY, which has united a wide range of the plant trait research community worldwide and gained an unprecedented buy-in of trait data: so far 93 trait databases have been contributed. The data repository currently contains almost three million trait entries for 69000 out of the world's 300000 plant species, with a focus on 52 groups of traits characterizing the vegetative and regeneration stages of the plant life cycle, including growth, dispersal, establishment and persistence. A first data analysis shows that most plant traits are approximately log-normally distributed, with widely differing ranges of variation across traits. Most trait variation is between species (interspecific), but significant intraspecific variation is also documented, up to 40% of the overall variation. Plant functional types (PFTs), as commonly used in vegetation models, capture a substantial fraction of the observed variation - but for several traits most variation occurs within PFTs, up to 75% of the overall variation. In the context of vegetation models these traits would better be represented by state variables rather than fixed parameter values. The improved availability of plant trait data in the unified global database is expected to support a paradigm shift from species to trait-based ecology, offer new opportunities for synthetic plant trait research and enable a more realistic and empirically grounded representation of terrestrial vegetation in Earth system models.

KW - Comparative ecology

KW - Database

KW - Environmental gradient

KW - Functional diversity

KW - Global analysis

KW - Global change

KW - Interspecific variation

KW - Intraspecific variation

KW - Plant attribute

KW - Plant functional type

KW - Plant trait

KW - Vegetation model

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=79957965204&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=79957965204&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1111/j.1365-2486.2011.02451.x

DO - 10.1111/j.1365-2486.2011.02451.x

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:79957965204

VL - 17

SP - 2905

EP - 2935

JO - Global Change Biology

JF - Global Change Biology

SN - 1354-1013

IS - 9

ER -