The functional trait spectrum of European temperate grasslands

Emma Ladouceur*, Costantino Bonomi, Helge Bruelheide, Jitka Klimešová, Sabina Burrascano, Peter Poschlod, Maria Tudela-Isanta, Pietro Iannetta, Andrea Mondoni, Bernard Amiaud, Bruno E.L. Cerabolini, Johannes Hans C. Cornelissen, Joseph Craine, Frédérique Louault, Vanessa Minden, Kinga Öllerer, Vladimir Onipchenko, Nadejda A. Soudzilovskaia, Borja Jiménez-Alfaro

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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    Questions: What is the functional trait variation of European temperate grasslands and how does this reflect global patterns of plant form and function? Do habitat specialists show trait differentiation across habitat types?. Location: Europe. Methods: We compiled 18 regeneration and non-regeneration traits for a continental species pool consisting of 645 species frequent in five grassland types. These grassland types are widely distributed in Europe but differentiated by altitude, soil bedrock and traditional long-term management and disturbance regimes. We evaluated the multivariate trait space of this entire species pool and compared multi-trait variation and mean trait values of habitat specialists grouped by grassland type. Results: The first dimension of the trait space accounted for 23% of variation and reflected a gradient between fast-growing and slow-growing plants. Plant height and SLA contributed to both the first and second ordination axes. Regeneration traits mainly contributed to the second and following dimensions to explain 56% of variation across the first five axes. Habitat specialists showed functional differences between grassland types mainly through non-regeneration traits. Conclusions: The trait spectrum of plants dominating European temperate grasslands is primarily explained by growth strategies which are analogous to the trait variation observed at the global scale, and secondly by regeneration strategies. Functional differentiation of habitat specialists across grassland types is mainly related to environmental filtering linked with altitude and disturbance. This filtering pattern is mainly observed in non-regeneration traits, while most regeneration traits demonstrate multiple strategies within the same habitat type.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)777-788
    Number of pages12
    JournalJournal of Vegetation Science
    Issue number5
    Early online date25 Jun 2019
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 2019


    EL, BJA, MTI, AM, PI and CB acknowledge the research leading to these results has received funding from the People Programme (Marie Curie Actions) of the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme FP7/2007–2013 under REA grant agreement no. 607785, as a part of the NAtive Seed Science TEchnology and Conservation (NASSTEC) Initial Training Network (ITN). BJA was further funded by the Marie Curie Clarín‐COFUND program of the Principality of Asturias and the European Union (ACB17‐26). BJA and HB acknowledge support from the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle–Jena–Leipzig funded by the German Research Foundation (DFTG FZT 118) through the sPlot research platform. PI acknowledges support from the Rural & Environment Science & Analytical Services Division of the Scottish Government. KÖ thanks RO1567 ‐IBB03/2018 for financial support.

    FundersFunder number
    German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research
    NAtive Seed Science TEchnology and Conservation
    Seventh Framework Programme607785
    FP7 People: Marie-Curie Actions
    Rural and Environment Science and Analytical Services Division
    Gobierno del Principado de Asturias
    Scottish GovernmentRO1567-IBB03/2018
    European CommissionACB17-26
    Research Executive Agency
    Deutsche ForschungsgemeinschaftDFTG FZT 118
    Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung Halle-Jena-Leipzig


      • clonality
      • functional traits
      • germination
      • grasslands
      • regeneration niche
      • seed traits
      • specialist species
      • species pool
      • trait spectrum


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