sPlot and TRY: Characterizing the trait composition of plant communities across the world’s biomes
The trait composition of plant communities is determined by abiotic, biotic and historical factors, but the drivers and patterns of traits and trait-covariation at global scale remain poorly quantified. Such knowledge is crucial for biogeographical and ecological theory and modeling, but also relevant to devise management measures to mitigate effects of climate change.
To address these questions, an iDiv Working Group has established the first global vegetation-plot database (sPlot). sPlot currently contains about 1 million plots from over 50 countries and all biomes, and is steadily growing. The combination with plant traits compiled in the TRY database facilitates characterizing the trait composition of the plant communities. Approx. 70% of the most frequent species in the sPlot plots are represented in the current version of TRY.
We will provide an overview of structure and content of sPlot and TRY in terms of spatial distribution, data properties, trait coverage and gap-filling. First preliminary cross-biome analyses already show clear trends – despite substantial scatter - of community-weighted mean traits, e.g. specific leaf area, with simple environmental drivers, like mean annual temperature. Finally, we will explain next steps and perspectives of the two initiatives.