Trait-based approaches in plant functional ecology: concepts and applications

  • 15. ledna 2024
  • The lecture will take place in lecture room D36/225. Classes will take place from Monday to Tuesday from 9 am to 6 pm. 

Gianluigi Ottaviani

The lecture explores the historical evolution and contemporary significance of trait-based approaches in plant functional ecology. Beginning with ancient attempts by the Greeks to categorize plant species based on morphological characteristics, the lecture highlights the enduring nature of the quest to understand plant types. In the face of modern challenges arising from human-induced environmental changes, the examination of functional shifts in vegetation, captured by trait patterns, emerges as a powerful tool.

The conceptual foundations of functional traits are then discussed, emphasizing how ecologists have revamped the grouping of plants based on physiological, anatomical, and other features. Functional traits provide insights at the individual level, allowing for a nuanced understanding of ecological functions across different organizational levels and spatio-temporal scales. The lecture presents recent advances in this trait-based framework, addressing strengths and shortcomings that require further refinement for the progression of plant ecology.

The applications of trait-based approaches in ecology, evolution, and biogeography form the final part. This topic highlights how studying plant functional traits can address eco-evolutionary questions at various organizational levels, spatial scales, and environmental gradients. Specific research areas, including functional biogeography, trait coordination, biomass allocation strategies, and plant architecture, are exemplified. Overall, the lecture underscores the importance of refining trait-based approaches to enhance our understanding of plant ecology and its broader implications for ecosystem and evolutionary processes.

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