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Trait Research

Species are characterized by homologous, analogous, and neutral traits that collectively provide information about their ecology and evolution, providing a powerful means to predict both patterns in distribution and abundance (Grime 1979, Tilman 1982, Huston and Smith 1987, Brown 1995, Enquist 2003, Brown et al. 2004, Navas and Moreau-Richard 2005, McGill et al. 2006) as well as ecosystems processes (e.g., Gordon 1998, Eviner and Chapin III 2003, Kelso et al. 2003, Díaz et al. 2004, Eviner 2004).

A diverse array of both fundamental and applied disciplines in evolutionary and ecological research depends on trait data. For example, the evolutionary ecology of species’ niches involves fundamental tradeoffs in seed size (Moles et al. 2005), leaf economic traits (Ackerly 2004, Wright et al. 2004), and allometric constraints (West et al. 1997). Using traits to predict the risk of species invasions (Veltman et al. 1996, Kolar and Lodge 2002, Lloret et al. 2005, Ruesink 2005), risk of species extinction (Gittleman and Purvis 1998, Foufopoulos and Ives 1999, Purvis et al. 2000), or crop responses to climate change (Lynch and St.Clair 2004) are examples of applied trait-based research. Mechanistic and predictive ecology similarly can rely heavily on trait data. For example, Solan et al. (2004) used traits to estimate changes in estuarine sediment turnover in the face of biodiversity loss and Bunker et al. (2005) forecasted changes in forest carbon sequestration under different management practices.

The three 'Trait Research' subfolders contain resources -- Protocols, References, and a Database list -- with respect to this field of research.




Registry of plant trait data - COMING SOON!
Plant Functional Traits Ontology - COMING SOON!

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0639161. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.