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New data source catalogs plant traits - useful for climate modeling

July 1st, 2010

The TRY database categorizes millions of plant traits for a significant portion of the world's species. Scientists from 106 institutions, led by DIVERSITAS, IGBP, and the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, put together the database, which can help researchers understand biodiversity and more accurately model the effects of climate change in different environments. TRY has compiled plant traits, including structural and physiological properties, for more than 69,000 of 300,000 known plant species.

Plant functional classifications were proposed in the 1990s as a tool to model vegetation dynamics and ecosystem functioning, especially biogeochemical cycles, in response to climate and carbon dioxide. The TRY project is a response to work that followed in that field. It has three main goals:

  1. Constructing a global-scale database of vascular plant traits that gathers data available in different existing datasets that cover a variety of biomes, geographic areas, and traits in a single, easily accessible format.
  2. Making the trait data available to the ecological community through sharing of data between TRY participants, while respecting the intellectual property rights of data contributors.
  3. Supporting the design of a new generation of dynamic global vegetation models (DGVMs) which take into account the greater biological complexity, necessary for a more robust representation of ecosystem response to global environmental change.

To become a TRY participant and obtain data from the database, you can either contribute plant trait records or present a proposal for a model or modeling development using online forms.