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Below-ground frontiers in trait-based plant ecology [New Phytologist/Review]

Keywords : community assembly, comparative ecology, ecosystem processes, fine roots, functional trait, mycorrhiza, nutrient acquisition, soil carbon

par Frédéric Magné - publié le

Trait-based approaches have led to significant advances in plant ecology, but are currently biased toward above-ground traits. It is becoming clear that a stronger emphasis on below-ground traits is needed to better predict future changes in plant biodiversity and their consequences for ecosystem functioning. Here I propose six ‘below-ground frontiers’ in trait-based plant ecology, with an emphasis on traits governing soil nutrient acquisition : redefining fine roots ; quantifying root trait dimensionality ; integrating mycorrhizas ; broadening the suite of root traits ; determining linkages between root traits and abiotic and biotic factors ; and understanding ecosystem-level consequences of root traits. Focusing research efforts along these frontiers should help to fulfil the promise of trait-based ecology : enhanced predictive capacity across ecological scales.

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