What traits are essential for plants to be successful on Earth?

The form and function of plants are immensely varied. But how constrained are traits when it comes to evolutionary viability and success?

Data resources used via GBIF : 46,000 species

The form and function of plants are immensely varied. But how constrained are traits when it comes to evolutionary viability and success? This massive study relies in part on GBIF-mediated data to examine plant trait variations at a global scale and draw a quantitative picture of functional diversity in 46,000 vascular plant species. Placing the plants into a six-dimensional trait matrix, the authors reveal how highly correlated and strongly constrained traits are, suggesting that a only small set of trait combinations are successful. Overall, the study presents a generalized backdrop for understanding plant biology and a global model for mapping the evolution of individual trait variations.

Citations

Díaz, S., Kattge, J., Cornelissen, J. H. C., Wright, I. J., Lavorel, S., Dray, S., … Gorné, L. D. (2016). The global spectrum of plant form and function. Nature, 529, 167–171. doi:10.1038/nature16489

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