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Journal Article

The global spectrum of plant form and function

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Díaz, S., Kattge, J., Cornelissen, J. H. C., Wright, I. J., Lavorel, S., Dray, S., et al. (2016). The global spectrum of plant form and function. Nature, 529: 167. doi:10.1038/nature16489.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0029-3F4F-3
Earth is home to a remarkable diversity of plant forms and life histories, yet comparatively few essential trait combinations
have proved evolutionarily viable in today’s terrestrial biosphere. By analysing worldwide variation in six major traits
critical to growth, survival and reproduction within the largest sample of vascular plant species ever compiled, we found
that occupancy of six-dimensional trait space is strongly concentrated, indicating coordination and trade-offs. Threequarters
of trait variation is captured in a two-dimensional global spectrum of plant form and function. One major
dimension within this plane reflects the size of whole plants and their parts; the other represents the leaf economics
spectrum, which balances leaf construction costs against growth potential. The global plant trait spectrum provides a
backdrop for elucidating constraints on evolution, for functionally qualifying species and ecosystems, and for improving
models that predict future vegetation based on continuous variation in plant form and function.