Department of Biology

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Henrik Balslev

Palm Functional Traits: which traits matter and how do we measure them?

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference abstract for conferenceResearch

In recent years, consideration of functional traits (i.e. traits that determine the role of an organism in ecosystem processes such as carbon, water and nutrient cycling) has fundamentally advanced our understanding of the mechanisms that structure biodiversity and ecosystem function, as well as our ability to predict the consequences of environmental change. At the same time, palms have emerged as a model group for tropical forest community ecology, macroecology and biogeography. However, the functional ecology of palms is relatively little explored, which is unfortunate given the important role of palms in tropical forest ecosystems. We review data availability for palms for four traits that are commonly used in functional plant ecology: specific leaf area (SLA), wood density, seed size, and maximum height. We suggest that palm functional ecology is impeded by some of the standard functional traits being difficult to measure (e.g. SLA) or interpret (e.g. wood density). We show that an SLA measure can be easily obtained from dried specimens, and discuss the problems and opportunities of this approach compared to whole-leaf SLA measurements. Measuring SLA from herbarium samples may allow capturing leaf economics across large parts of the palm family with reasonable amounts of time and money.
Original languageEnglish
Publication year10 May 2014
Publication statusPublished - 10 May 2014
EventEUNOPS XIV: European Network of Palm Scientists 14th annual meeting - Jardí Botànic de la Universitat de Valéncia, Valencia, Spain
Duration: 10 May 201412 May 2014


ConferenceEUNOPS XIV
LocationJardí Botànic de la Universitat de Valéncia

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