Functional diversity

Characterizing functional diversity and correlated traits

Can we use traits to link selection on individuals to ecosystem functioning?

In many of our studies, we describe diversity of communities with functional traits. Traits are characteristics of plant individual’s phenotype, such as root length and seed mass, related to individual’s performance. They can reflect species’ responses to environment and other species, and also their contribution to ecosystem functions.

Recent literature has demonstrated universal trade-offs, or correlations, among traits across species. In our studies we strive to take into account these correlations when quantifying trait composition of communities. This collaborative project with Dr. Malcolm Itter and Dr. Jarno Vanhatalo.

On the right an example of bivariate distribution among two traits (leaf dry matter content on x-axis, leaf C:N ratio on y-axis) in a plant community. Dots illustrate locations of species in the space defined by these two traits. White lines indicate 95 % probability density of these two traits and light color indicates locations of the highest probability densities.