EGU23-13427, updated on 26 Feb 2023
EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Environmental niche characterization of plant functional groups

Julia Joswig1 and Meredith C. Schuman1,2
Julia Joswig and Meredith C. Schuman
  • 1University of Zürich (UZH), Spatial Genetics, Remote Sensing Laboratories, Geography, Zürich, Switzerland
  • 2University of Zürich (UZH), Department of Chemistry, Zürich, Switzerland

Ecosystem functioning is thought to be mediated by traits of organisms living within phylogenetic constraints. Plant groups of similar traits (functional groups) are likely to fit into a similar environmental niche. Characterizing functional groups’ niche space along environmental gradients would allow us to better understand patterns of trait variation.

We aim at defining the global environmental niche, i.e. the trait space filled at a given environment, of different functional groups of plants. 

In particular, we compare the environmental functional diversity (FD) gradients of four functional plant groups. These functional groups represent major differences in size and plant economy, derived from global in situ trait data of the TRY database. We find their gradients to vary in shape and strength. For example, tall-and-slow species’ FD varies more than small-and-slow ones, with a high FD in the Mediterranean. 

This study's findings point to how global change may affect functional groups differently and may ultimately provide valuable insights into ecosystem functioning.

How to cite: Joswig, J. and Schuman, M. C.: Environmental niche characterization of plant functional groups, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-13427,, 2023.