Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Scopus Web of Science® Altmetric
Type: Journal article
Title: Environmental associations of abundance-weighted functional traits in Australian plant communities
Author: Guerin, G.R.
Gallagher, R.V.
Wright, I.J.
Andrew, S.C.
Falster, D.S.
Wenk, E.
Munroe, S.E.M.
Lowe, A.J.
Sparrow, B.
Citation: Basic and Applied Ecology, 2022; 58:98-109
Publisher: Elsevier BV
Issue Date: 2022
ISSN: 1439-1791
Statement of
Greg R. Guerin, Rachael V. Gallagher, Ian J. Wright, Samuel C. Andrew, Daniel S. Falster, Elizabeth Wenk, Samantha E.M. Munroe, Andrew J. Lowe, Ben Sparrow
Abstract: Predictions of how vegetation responds to spatial and temporal differences in climate rely on established links with plant functional traits and vegetation types that can be encoded into Dynamic Global Vegetation Models. Individual traits have been linked to climate at species level and at community level within regions. However, a recent global assessment of aggregated community level traits found unexpectedly weak links with macroclimate, bringing into question broadscale trait–climate associations and implicating local-scale environmental differences in the filtering of communities. To further evaluate patterns in light of these somewhat contradictory results, we quantified the power of macro-environmental variables to explain aggregated plant community traits, taking advantage of new trait data for leaf area, plant height and seed mass combined with a national survey that records cover-abundance using consistent methods for a large number of plots across Australia. In contrast to the global study, we found that abundance-weighted community mean and variance of leaf area and maximum height were correlated with macroclimate. Height and leaf area were highest in wet (especially warm, wet) environments, with actual evapotranspiration explaining 30% of variation in leaf area and 26% in maximum height. Seed mass was weakly related to environment, with no variable explaining more than 5% of variance. Considering all three traits together in a redundancy analysis, the complete set of environmental variables explained 43% of variation in site-mean traits and 29% of within-site trait variance. While significant trait variation remains unexplained, the trait–environment relationships reported here suggest climatically-driven filtering plays a strong role in assembling these vegetation communities. Regional assessments using standardised species abundances can therefore be used to predict aspects of vegetation function. Our quantification of plant community trait patterns along macroclimatic gradients at continental scale thereby contributes a much-needed functional basis for Australian vegetation.
Keywords: Leaf size; seed mass; plant height; functional trait; plant community; climate gradient; relative abundance
Rights: © 2021 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier GmbH on behalf of Gesellschaft für Ökologie. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (
DOI: 10.1016/j.baae.2021.11.008
Grant ID:
Appears in Collections:Ecology, Evolution and Landscape Science publications

Files in This Item:
File Description SizeFormat 
hdl_134590.pdfPublished version1.69 MBAdobe PDFView/Open

Items in DSpace are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.