Date: 08.08.2023

Can functional traits define tundra plant responses to climate change?

The answer is in the title of our new paper published at Nature Communications, which was created with the contribution of scientists from the Biological Centre of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic. "Plant traits poorly predict winner and loser shrub species in a warming tundra biome."

We investigated whether past abundance changes, current range sizes and projected range shifts were related to trait values and intraspecific trait variation. We used 17,921 trait records of tundra shrubs across three continents from Try plant trait database and Tundra Trait Team.

We found that species with greater variation in seed mass and specific leaf area were more likely to expand in the future, and that winners had bigger seeds. But neither specific trait values or variation were consistently related to abundance changes and range shifts.

Our findings show that no specific trait values or variation is associated with winner or loser tundra shrub species. Thus, tundra shrubs can be equally resilient or vulnerable to climate change even with widely different combinations of trait values and variation.


This article was possible thanks to open access data and to Mariana García Criado and a team of co-authors.  The article has been selected as part of the Editor’s Highlights for Ecology and Evolution.



Citation:  García Criado M., Myers‐Smith I.H., Bjorkman A.D., Normand S., Blach-Overgaard A., Thomas H.J.D., Eskelinen A., Happonen K., Alatalo J.M., Anadon-Rosell A., Aubin I., te Beest M., Betway-May K.R., Blok D., Buras A., Cerabolini B.E.L., Christie K., Cornelissen J.H.C., Forbes B.C., Frei E.R., Grogan P., Hermanutz L., Hollister R.D., Hudson J., Iturrate-Garcia M., Kaarlejärvi E., Kleyer M., Lamarque L.J., Lembrechts J.J., Lévesque E., Luoto M., Macek P., May J., Prevéy J.S., Schaepman-Strub G., Sheremetiev S.N., Siegwart Collier L., Soudzilovskaia N.A., Trant A., Venn S.E., Virkkala A.-M. (2023) Plant traits poorly predict winner and loser shrub species in a warming tundra biome. Nature Communications 14, 3837

DOI: 10.1038/s41467-023-39573-4




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