Abstract Detail


Garbowski, Magda [1], Brown, Cynthia [2], Johnston, Danielle [3].

Leaf and root traits vary throughout plant developmemt.

Trait-based ecology aims to link traits, or morphological, physiological, or phenological plant characteristics, with performance and fitness in various environments. Most trait-based studies focus aboveground traits which are obtained from mature individuals. However, seedling traits as well as root traits may be particularly informative for understanding recruitment patterns as seedlings are especially vulnerable to stress and root traits influence resource acquisition and stress tolerance at this vulnerable life stage. We conducted a greenhouse study to assess the effects of ontogeny (i.e., developmental age) on traits within and among 11 species being developed for re-vegetation of arid ecosystems in the southwestern United States. We measured several leaf and root traits from plants at three stages: 10-days, 24-days, and 42-days old. We then assessed dominant axes of variation in traits at each ontogenetic stage and correlated these axes to future plant growth rate.
Differences in median values of most traits were influenced by both species’ identity and ontogeny. Ontogeny affected growth rates and root elongation rates substantially, but other traits including leaf dry matter content, root tissue density, and root diameter varied little throughout seedling development. Relationships among traits were similar at all ontogenetic stages, but which principal component axes were correlated with future growth depended on stage; at the earliest harvest, the axis related to tissue construction was linked to future growth rate, whereas, at the last harvest, three independent axes were related to future growth rate. Overall we conclude that traits exhibiting low variability throughout development may be promising candidates for future trait-based studies and promising targets for targetting in restoration plant materials development. In addition, we suggest that linking suites of traits to performance may be particularly fruitful for understanding plant strategies throughout early development, as multivariate relationships among traits appear to be more ontogenetically stable than individual traits.

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1 - University of Wyoming, 1000 East University Ave, Dept. Botany, Laramie, Wyoming, 82071, United States
2 - Colorado State University, Dept Of Bioagricultural Sciences & Pest Mangement, 1177 Campus Delivery, Fort Collins, CO, 80523, United States
3 - Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife, 711 Independent Ave, Grand Junction, Colorado, 81505, United States

functional traits

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Number: EC08005
Abstract ID:798
Candidate for Awards:None

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