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Title: Mapping local and global variability in plant trait distributions

Our ability to understand and predict the response of ecosystems to a changing environment depends on quantifying vegetation functional diversity. However, representing this diversity at the global scale is challenging. Typically, in Earth system models, characterization of plant diversity has been limited to grouping related species into plant functional types (PFTs), with all trait variation in a PFT collapsed into a single mean value that is applied globally. Using the largest global plant trait database and state of the art Bayesian modeling, we created fine-grained global maps of plant trait distributions that can be applied to Earth system models. Focusing on a set of plant traits closely coupled to photosynthesis and foliar respiration—specific leaf area (SLA) and dry mass-based concentrations of leaf nitrogen (N m) and phosphorus (P m), we characterize how traits vary within and among over 50,000 ~50×50-km cells across the entire vegetated land surface. We do this in several ways—without defining the PFT of each grid cell and using 4 or 14 PFTs; each model’s predictions are evaluated against out-of-sample data. This endeavor advances prior trait mapping by generating global maps that preserve variability across scales by using modern Bayesian spatial statistical modeling in combination with amore » database over three times larger than that in previous analyses. Our maps further reveal that the most diverse grid cells possess trait variability close to the range of global PFT means.« less
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  1. Univ. of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN (United States). Dept. of Forest Resources
  2. Johns Hopkins Univ., Baltimore, MD (United States). Dept. of Biostatistics
  3. Univ. of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN (United States). Dept. of Forest Resources and Dept. of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior
  4. Univ. of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN (United States). Dept. of Computer Science and Engineering
  5. Australian National Univ., Canberra, ACT (Australia). Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy and Division of Plant Sciences, Research School of Biology
  6. Max Planck Inst. for Biogeochemistry, Jena (Germany); German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research, Leipzig (Germany)
  7. Univ. of Lorraine, Vandoeuvre-les-Nancy (France). National Inst. for Agricultural Research and Joint Research Unit for Forest Ecology and Ecophysiology
  8. Univ. of Oxford (United Kingdom). Environmental Change Inst.
  9. Max Planck Inst. for Biogeochemistry, Jena (Germany)
  10. Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), College Park, MD (United States). Joint Global Change Research Inst.
  11. Kingston Univ. London, Surrey (United Kingdom). Dept. of Geography and Geology
  12. Seoul National Univ. (Korea, Republic of). School of Biological Sciences
  13. Univ. of Camerino (Italy). School of Biosciences and Veterinary Medicine, Plant Diversity and Ecosystems Management Unit
  14. Univ. of Insubria, Varese (Italy). Dept. of Theoretical and Applied Sciences
  15. Vrije Univ., Amsterdam (Netherlands). Systems Ecology and Dept. of Ecological Science
  16. Jonah Ventures LLC, Manhattan, KS (United States)
  17. German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research, Leipzig (Germany); Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research-UFZ, Halle (Germany). Dept. of Community Ecology
  18. Univ. of Manchester (United Kingdom). School of Earth and Environmental Sciences
  19. National Univ. of Cordoba (Argentina). Faculty of Exact, Physical and Natural Sciences and Multidisciplinary Inst. of Plant Biology (IMBIV) and Dept. of Biological Diversity and Ecology
  20. Univ. of Sao Paulo (Brazil). Faculty of Philosophy, Sciences and Letters of Ribeirão Preto
  21. Normandy Univ., Mont-Saint-Aignan (France). National Research Inst. in Science and Technology and Lab. of Ecology and Ecodiversity
  22. Del Rosario Univ., Bogota (Colombia). Faculty of Natural Sciences and Mathematics
  23. King Juan Carlos Univ., Mostoles (Spain). Higher School of Experimental Sciences and Technology and Dept. of Biology and Geology; Univ. of La Rochelle, Villiers en Bois (France). Center of Biological Studies of Chize (CEBC) and French National Inst. for Agricultural Research (INRA)
  24. China Agricultural Univ., Beijing (China). College of Resources and Environmental Sciences; Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), Xinjiang (China). Xinjiang Inst. of Ecology and Geography and Key Lab. of Biogeography and Bio-Resource in Arid Land
  25. Univ. of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg (South Africa). School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences
  26. Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (BiK-F), Frankfurt (Germany); Goethe Univ., Frankfurt (Germany). Dept. of Physical Geography
  27. Ulm Univ. (Germany). Inst. of Systematic Botany and Ecology
  28. Wageningen Environmental Research, Wageningen (Netherlands). Team Vegetation, Forest and Landscape Ecology; Wageningen Univ. (Netherlands). Chairgroup Forest Ecology and Management
  29. Univ. of California, Los Angeles, CA (United States). Dept. of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
  30. Forestry and Forest Products Research Inst., Tsukuba (Japan). Dept. of Forest Vegetation
  31. Univ. of Wyoming, Laramie, WY (United States). Dept. of Botany
  32. Australian National Univ., Canberra, ACT (Australia). Division of Plant Sciences; Univ. of Edinburgh, Scotland (United Kingdom). School of Geosciences
  33. Univ. of Oldenburg (Germany). Inst. of Biology and Environmental Science
  34. Estonian Univ. of Life Sciences, Tartu (Estonia). Dept. of Plant Physiology
  35. Kyoto Univ. (Japan). Graduate School of Agriculture
  36. Autonomous Univ. of Barcelona (Spain). Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), Unit of Global Ecology; Centre for Research on Ecology and Forestry Applications (CREAF), Barcelona (Spain)
  37. Michigan State Univ., East Lansing, MI (United States). Dept. of Forestry
  38. Algoma Univ., Ontario (Canada). Dept. of Biology
  39. Leiden Univ. (Netherlands). Inst. of Environmental Sciences
  40. Univ. of California, Riverside, CA (United States). Dept. of Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology
  41. Embrapa Temperate Agriculture, Pelotas (Brazil). Environmental Planning Lab.
  42. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States). Environmental Sciences Division and Climate Change Science Inst.
  43. National Museum of Natural History, Madrid (Spain)
  44. Univ. of Edinburgh, Scotland (United Kingdom). School of Geosciences
  45. Max Planck Inst. for Biogeochemistry, Jena (Germany); German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research, Leipzig (Germany); Univ. of Leipzig (Germany). Dept. of Systematic Botany and Functional Biodiversity
  46. Univ. of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN (United States). Dept. of Forest Resources; Univ. of Western Sydney, NSW (Australia). Hawkesbury Inst. for the Environment
Publication Date:
Report Number(s):
Journal ID: ISSN 0027-8424
Grant/Contract Number:
AC05-00OR22725; AC05-76RL01830; SC0012677; CE140100008; DEB-1234162; DEB-1242531; IIS-1563950; 640176; NE/M019160/1; ERC-SyG-2013-610028 IMBALANCE-P; CGL2013-48074-P; SGR 2014-274; FT110100457; NE/F002149/1; 41473068
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 114; Journal Issue: 51; Journal ID: ISSN 0027-8424
National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC (United States)
Research Org:
Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States); Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER) (SC-23); Australian Research Council; National Science Foundation (NSF); Univ. of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN (United States); Max Planck Society, Jena (Germany). Max Planck Inst. for Biogeochemistry; Univ. of Leipzig (Germany); Natural Environment Research Council (NERC); European Research Council (ERC); Spanish Government; Catalan Government; Wageningen Univ. and Research (Netherlands); National Natural Science Foundation of China (NNSFC); Chinese Academy of Sciences
Country of Publication:
United States
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; 60 APPLIED LIFE SCIENCES; plant traits; Bayesian modeling; spatial statistics; global; climate
OSTI Identifier:
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1410892