Wood structure rises to the challenge of building large trees

Kanin Rungwattana and Peter Hietz It takes a lot of wood to make a tree and wood thus constitutes the largest share of Earth’s biomass. At first sight, wood is needed to provide the mechanical structure that exposes leaves to sunlight. But leaves have to be supplied with water from the soil, which is also…

Development influences the expression of growth and defensive traits in plants

Xóchitl Damián, Juan Fornoni, César A. Domínguez and Karina Boege Plants have to deal with simultaneous physiological and environmental challenges, from growing and defending their tissues from consumers, to reproducing and dispersing. Hence, plants need to optimize the use of resources for these different functions. In the case of leaves, for example, plants express different…

Anatomy of pine needles reflects climatic adaptation

Artur Jankowski , Tomasz P. Wyka, Roma Żytkowiak, Bengt Nihlgård, Peter B. Reich, Jacek Oleksyn Short growing season, low temperature and nutrient shortages have caused many plants in subarctic regions to adapt a slow, conservative life style. For example, few subarctic woody plants can afford to replace their leaves annually as is common in the…

Prairie species differ in the timing of rainfall necessary for flowering

Nathan P. Lemoine, John D. Dietrich, Melinda D. Smith The first European settlers of the midwestern United States were awestruck by the productivity of tallgrass prairies. The fertility of this region was apparent from the number and density of flowering stalks, which can reach over 1.5 m in height for many tallgrass species. Yet species…

Drought resistance traits in Bromeliaceae

Jamie Males & Howard Griffiths The bromeliads are one of the world’s most diverse plant families, with species occurring in an extremely broad range of habitats across the tropical and subtropical Americas. The colonisation of new habitat types by different bromeliad lineages is known to have involved transitions in growth form (functional type), including switches…

Intraspecific variability and reaction norms of forest understory plant species traits

Julia I. Burton, Steven S. Perakis, Sean C. McKenzie, Caitlin E. Lawrence and Klaus J. Puettmann Plant traits are recognized as being increasingly important for understanding plant community assembly processes and predicting responses to changes in climate and disturbance regimes. Most approaches ignore trait variation within species, assuming individual species can be represented by a…