Tundra Plant Trait Database

Tundra Plant Trait Database

November 27th, 2019

Worldwide trait database addresses long-standing questions about trait-environment relationships and provides an unprecedented digital resource to inform Earth system models.

The Science: 
  • Data compiled for tundra ecosystems from around the world and more than 91,000 measurements of 18 plant traits analyzed.
  • Complements other databases (e.g., TRY) and adds new data from high-latitude ecosystems where cold temperatures shape function at gene to ecosystem scales.
The Impact: 
  • A rich digital resource that confirms that tundra plants, compared to other lifeforms, do indeed exhibit unique trait relationships (e.g., resource acquisition) resulting from adaptation to extreme environmental conditions.
  • The authors aimed to greatly expand the representation of root structural and functional traits in global data repositories and the insights they provide to models.


Bjorkman, A.D., Myers‐Smith, I.H., Elmendorf, S.C., Normand, S., Thomas, H.J., Alatalo, J.M., Alexander, H., Anadon‐Rosell, A., Angers‐Blondin, S., Bai, Y. and Baruah, G., 2018. Tundra Trait Team: A database of plant traits spanning the tundra biome. Global Ecology and Biogeography 27:1402-1411. doi.org/10.1111/geb.12821

Hypothesized location of tundra trait space within global trait space, and possible sources of trait variation. Global trait space is conceptualized as a ‘galactic plane’ defined by two major axes of trait variation, corresponding to strategies of plant s


Colleen Iverson
Oak Ridge National Laboratory