Location: Rangeland Resources & Systems ResearchTitle: TRY plant trait database - enhanced coverage and open access
|KATTGE, JENS - Max Planck Institute For Biogeochemistry|
|BONISCH, GERHARD - Max Planck Institute For Biogeochemistry|
|DIAZ, SANDRA - Universidad Nacional De Cordoba|
|LAVOREL, SANDRA - Grenoble Institute Of Technology|
|PRENTICE, IAN - Imperial College|
|LEADLEY, PAUL - University Of Paris|
|TAUTENHAHN, SUSANNE - Max Planck Institute For Biogeochemistry|
|WERNER, GIJSBERT - University Of Oxford|
|GILLISON, ANDREW - Center For Biodiversity, Functional & Integrative Genomics|
|WIRTH, CHRISTIAN - Max Planck Institute For Biogeochemistry|
Submitted to: Global Change Biology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/12/2019
Publication Date: 1/1/2020
Citation: Kattge, J., Bonisch, G., Diaz, S., Lavorel, S., Prentice, I.C., Leadley, P., Tautenhahn, S., Werner, G., Gillison, A., Wirth, C., Gleason, S.M., Blumenthal, D.M. 2020. TRY plant trait database - enhanced coverage and open access. Global Change Biology. 26:119-188. https://doi.org/10.1111/gcb.14904.
Interpretive Summary: Plant trait data underlies a wide range of research, including evolutionary biology, community and functional ecology, biodiversity conservation, ecosystem and landscape management, restoration, and biogeography and earth system modeling. The TRY database of plant traits provides unprecedented data coverage, open access to data, and is the primary plant trait database used by the research community worldwide. This article describes the extent of the trait data compiled in TRY and analyzes patterns of data coverage and representativeness. While the database includes nearly complete species coverage of some categorical traits, coverage is much lower for continuous traits characterized by intraspecific variation and trait-environmental relationships. Promising next steps include machine learning for trait prediction and coordinated approaches to data mobilization and in-situ trait measurements.
Technical Abstract: Plant traits – the morphological, anatomical, physiological, biochemical and phenological characteristics of plants – determine how plants respond to environmental factors, affect other trophic levels, and influence ecosystems properties and the derived benefits and detriments to people. Plant trait data thus represent the essential basis for a vast area of research spanning from evolutionary biology, community and functional ecology, to biodiversity conservation, ecosystem and landscape management, restoration, and biogeography and earth system modeling. Since its foundation in 2007, the TRY database of plant traits has grown continuously. It now provides unprecedented data coverage under an open access data policy and is the main plant trait database used by the research community worldwide. Increasingly the TRY database also supports new frontiers of trait-based plant research, including the identification of data gaps and the subsequent mobilization or measurement of new data. To support this development, in this article we evaluate the extent of the trait data compiled in TRY and analyse emerging patterns of data coverage and representativeness. Best species coverage is achieved for categorical traits. For example, we have achieved almost nearly complete global coverage of ‘plant growth form’. However, most traits relevant for ecology and vegetation modeling are characterized by intraspecific variation and trait-environmental relationships; therefore, for many purposes, these traits have to be measured on individual plants in their respective environment. Despite unprecedented data coverage, we observe a humbling lack of completeness and representativeness in many aspects. Due to the sheer amount of data in the TRY database, machine learning for trait prediction is promising - but does not add new data. We, therefore, conclude that reducing data gaps and biases in the TRY database requires a coordinated approach to data mobilization and in-situ trait measurements. This can only be achieved in collaboration with other initiatives.