Land-plant ecology on the basis of functional traits

Mark Westoby*, Ian J. Wright

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    785 Citations (Scopus)


    The tissue traits and architectures of plant species are important for land-plant ecology in two ways. First, they control ecosystem processes and define habitat and resources for other taxa; thus, they are a high priority for understanding the ecosystem at a site. Second, knowledge of trait costs and benefits offers the most promising path to understanding how vegetation properties change along physical geography gradients. There exists an informal shortlist of plant traits that are thought to be most informative. Here, we summarize recent research on correlations and tradeoffs surrounding some traits that are prospects for the shortlist. By extending the list and by developing better models for how traits influence species distributions and interactions, a strong foundation of basic ecology can be established, with many practical applications.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)261-268
    Number of pages8
    JournalTrends in Ecology and Evolution
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - May 2006


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