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TRY - a global database of plant traits

Jens Kattge, Sandra Díaz, Sandra Lavorel, I. Colin Prentice, Paul Leadley, Gerhard Bönisch, Eric Garnier, Mark Westoby, Peter B. Reich, Ian J. Wright, Johannes H.C. Cornelissen, Cyrille Violle, Sandy P. Harrison, Peter M. Van Bodegom, Markus Reichstein, Brian J. Enquist, Nadejda A. Soudzilovskaia, David D. Ackerly, Madhur Anand, Owen Atkin, Michael Bahn, Timothy R. Baker, Dennis Baldocchi, Renée Bekker, Carolina C. Blanco, Benjamin Blonder, William J. Bond, Ross Bradstock, Daniel E. Bunker, Fernando Casanoves, Jeannine Cavender-Bares, Jeffrey Q. Chambers, F. Stuart Chapin, Jerome Chave, David A. Coomes, Will K. Cornwell, Joseph M. Craine, Barbara H. Dobrin, Leandro Duarte, Walter Durka, James Elser, Gerd Esser, Marc Estiarte, William F. Fagan, Jingyun Fang, Fernando Fernández-Méndez, Alessandra Fidelis, Bryan Finegan, Olivier Flores, Henry Ford, Dorothea Frank, Gregoire T. Freschet, Nikolaos M. Fyllas, Rachael V. Gallagher, Walton A. Green, Alvaro G. Gutierrez, Thomas Hickler, Steven I. Higgins, John G. Hodgson, Adel Jalili, Steven Jansen, Carlos Alfredo Joly, Andrew J. Kerkhoff, Don Kirkup, Kaoru Kitajima, Michael Kleyer, Stefan Klotz, Johannes M. H. Knops, Koen Kramer, Ingolf Kühn, Hiroko Kurokawa, Daniel Laughlin, Tali D. Lee, Michelle R. Leishman, Frederic Lens, Tanja Lenz, Simon L. Lewis, Jon Lloyd, Joan Llusià, Frédérique Louault, Siyan Ma, Miguel D. Mahecha, Pete Manning, Tara Massad, Belinda Medlyn, Julie Messier, Angela T. Moles, Sandra C. Müller, Karin Nadrowski, Shahid Naeem, Ülo Niinemets, Stefanie Nöllert, Angela Nüske, Romà Ogaya, Jacek Oleksyn, Vladimir G. Onipchenko, Yusuke Onoda, Jenny Ordoñez, Gerhard Overbeck, Wim A. Ozinga, Sandra Patiño, Susana Paula, Juli G. Pausas, Josep Peñuelas, Oliver L. Phillips, Valério D. Pillar, Hendrik Poorter, Lourens Poorter, Peter Poschlod, Andreas Prinzing, Raphaël Proulx, Anja Rammig, Sabine Reinsch, Björn Reu, Lawren Sack, Beatriz Salgado-Negret, Jordi Sardans, Satomi Shiodera, Bill Shipley, Andrew Siefert, Enio Sosinski, Jean-Francois Soussana, Emily Swaine, Nathan Swenson, Ken Thompson, Peter Thornton, Matthew Waldram, Evan Weiher, Michael White, Shelby White, S. Joseph Wright, Benjamin Yguel, Sönke Zaehle, Amy E. Zanne, Christian Wirth
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Journal Article
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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 69 000 out of the world's 300 000 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.

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