6 February 2019

Nature Ecology & Evolution publication co-authored by Utrecht biologist Yann Hautier

Using leaf traits as barometers

Scanned images that illustrate the diversity of leaves sampled in this study from 27 grassland sites.

Together with twenty-six other grassland sites around the world, Yann Hautier (Assistant professor in Ecology and Biodiversity, Utrecht University) measured leaf traits in plots that were either under ambient condition or under experimental nutrient addition.

First time

This is the first time that a study conducted at this scale uses on site trait measurement instead of relying on database. This led them to find out that some plant traits are not influenced by the environment and thus can be generally used from database, but others are determined by the environment and thus should be measured on site.

For decades scientists have searched for a set of simple, easily measured traits that could be used to predict how plants respond to environmental change at any site around the world. These traits have been referred to as the ‘holy grail’, because they could serve as a standardized instrument, a biological barometer, to predict the effects of global change on the earth’s ecosystems.

Publication and blog

Visit Nature.com to read more about the publication or take a look at the blog (will be published later this week) at the Nature Ecology & Evolution community and Functional traits relationships