News Release

How climate affects forest biodiversity

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest, Oregon, USA (1 of 3)

image: H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest, Oregon, USA. view more 

Credit: Image courtesy of Brian J. Enquist.

A study finds that climate affects the functional traits of forests. Few studies have examined how environmental conditions affect trait diversity among organisms within an ecosystem on a global scale. To uncover how climate affects the functional diversity of forests, Daniel J. Wieczynski and colleagues analyzed data from 421 tree communities around the world, 66 of which were sampled in situ. The dataset included 55,983 individual trees of 2,701 species. The authors examined a variety of functional traits that affect both individual plant growth and overall forest productivity, such as leaf area, seed mass, plant height, amount of leaf-produced carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus, and ratio of nitrogen to phosphorus. The authors also measured various climatic factors for each community, including precipitation, solar radiation, temperature, vapor pressure, and wind speed. Temperature variability and vapor pressure had the greatest influence on trait diversity within and across communities. High latitudes and elevations reduced community functional diversity across all traits, except seed mass, which was largely affected by precipitation and wind speed. According to the authors, climate change may affect not only functional traits of communities but also species distribution across the globe.


Article #18-13723: "Climate shapes and shifts functional biodiversity in forests worldwide," by Daniel J. Wieczynski et al.

MEDIA CONTACT: Daniel J. Wieczynski, University of California, Los Angeles, CA; tel: 203-313-4187; email:

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