We contribute to quantifying, scaling and understanding global plant functional diversity to identify its imprint on biogeochemical cycles, and how it is affected by climate variation and global change. For this purpose we coordinate the TRY Initiative, a community effort developing a global database of plant characteristics ('plant traits') to make these data available for ecological research and vegetation modelling.

The group is a collaboration of Max Planck Fellow Christian Wirth and the three departments at the Max-Planck Institute. Christian Wirth is Professor at the University of Leipzig and Director of the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research Halle-Jena-Leipzig (iDiv). At the Max Planck Institute, the group is headed by Jens Kattge.

Latest key papers

Symbiont switching and alternative resource acquisition strategies drive mutualism breakdown. Werner et al. (2018) PNAS Online Article

Large sensitivity in land carbon storage due to geographical and temporal variation in the thermal response of photosynthetic capacity. Mercado et al. (2018) New Phytologist Online Article

Spatial patterns and climate relationships of major plant traits in the New World differ between woody and herbaceous species. Simova et al. (2018) Journal of Biogeography Online Article

Continental mapping of forest ecosystem functions reveals a high but unrealized potential for forest multifunctionality. van der Plas F. et al. (2018) Ecology Letters Online Article

Mapping local and global variability in plant trait distributions. Butler E. et al. (2017) Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America Online Article

>> Complete list of publications

News and activities

April 2018 The group contributes to organizing the session Plant Traits and Biogeochemical Cycles at the European Geosciences Union General Assembly 2017 in Vienna, Austria, 8-13 April 2018.

January 2018 Susanne Tautenhahn has joined the group, working as postdoctoral researcher in the project: Mobilization of trait data from digital image files by deep learning approaches. Welcome!

December 2017 The Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science (MPG) has extended the renowned Max Planck fellow program for Christian Wirth for a further five years.

December 2017 The TRY database is presented at the Ecology Across Borders in Gent, Belgium.

July 2017 The new version of the TRY database is presented at the International Botanical Conference (IBC 2017) in Shenzhen, China.

July 2017 TRY version 4.0 is online. This new version of the TRY database provides more trait data and is based on am improved data curation workflow. For more information please check the TRY website.