Submitted to: Symposium Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/20/2004
Publication Date: 8/6/2004
Citation: Comas, L.H., Goslee, S.C., Skinner, R.H., Sanderson, M.A. 2004. Defining plant functional types by their potential effects on ecosystem properties. Ecological Society of America Proceedings. August 1-6, 2004, Portland Oregan. p. 102.
Interpretive Summary: An interpretive summary is not required.
Technical Abstract: Interest in defining plant functional groups quantitatively by their ecosystem effects has been increasing as ecologists strive to understand plant communities from a functional perspective. We measured plant physiological, morphological, and seasonal growth traits from 23 common grazing land species from three broad categories (grass, legume, forb) in order to assess plant functional types with traits having direct effects on the productivity and resilience of temperate grazed grasslands. Traits such as relative growth rate, shoot productivity under drought and low N, root distribution, leaf area index, and seasonal plant performance, were measured under a recurring cutting regime in greenhouse and field studies. Six ecosystem functions of potential value to temperate grazing lands were identified: early spring productivity, spring productivity, drought avoidance, fall productivity, gap colonization and insensitivity of growth to low N. Defining plant functional types for temperate grazed grasslands is the first step in investigating the effects of plant functional diversity on productivity and resilience of these systems.