The world‐wide ‘fast–slow’ plant economics spectrum: a traits manifesto

  title={The world‐wide ‘fast–slow’ plant economics spectrum: a traits manifesto},
  author={Peter B. Reich},
  journal={Journal of Ecology},
  • P. Reich
  • Published 1 March 2014
  • Environmental Science
  • Journal of Ecology
The leaf economics spectrum (LES) provides a useful framework for examining species strategies as shaped by their evolutionary history. However, that spectrum, as originally described, involved only two key resources (carbon and nutrients) and one of three economically important plant organs. Herein, I evaluate whether the economics spectrum idea can be broadly extended to water – the third key resource –stems, roots and entire plants and to individual, community and ecosystem scales. My… 
Rethinking the Plant Economics Spectrum for Annuals: A Multi-Species Study
The results showed that the functional constraints hypothesized by the plant economics spectrum do not apply to winter annuals, leading to unexpected trait-growth and trait-rainfall relations, which should be explicitly tested for different species groups.
Root Branching Is a Leading Root Trait of the Plant Economics Spectrum in Temperate Trees
It is concluded that branching of lower order roots can be considered a leading root trait of the plant economics spectrum of temperate trees, since it relates to the mycorrhizal association type and belowground resource exploitation; while the dominance of the phylogenetic signal over environmental filtering makes morphological root traits less central for tree economics spectra across different environments.
Resolving whole‐plant economics from leaf, stem and root traits of 1467 Amazonian tree species
This study emphasises the existence of multiple functional dimensions that allow tropical tree species to optimize their performance in a given environment, bringing new insights into the debate around the presence of a whole plant economic spectrum in tropical forest tree communities.
Evolution of the leaf economics spectrum in herbs: Evidence from environmental divergences in leaf physiology across Helianthus (Asteraceae)
The evolution of the LES is examined across 28 species of the diverse herbaceous genus Helianthus, which occupies a wide range of habitats and climate variation across North America, to suggest that LES patterns do not reflect universal physiological trade‐offs at small evolutionary scales.
The fungal collaboration gradient dominates the root economics space in plants
It is shown that root-mycorrhizal collaboration can short circuit a one-dimensional economic spectrum, providing an entire space of economic possibilities forRoot economics, ranging from ‘do-it-yourself’ resource acquisition to ‘outsourcing’ to mycorrhIZal partners.
Leaf economics guides slow-fast adaptation across the geographic range of A. thaliana
It is found that the LES is tightly linked to variation in whole-plant functioning, relative growth rate and life history, and a genetic analysis suggested that phenotypic differentiation is linked to the evolution of different slow-fast strategies in contrasted climates.
Leaf economics and slow-fast adaptation across the geographic range of Arabidopsis thaliana
It is found that the LES is tightly linked to variation in whole-plant functioning, and aligns with the slow-fast continuum, and encourages future studies to bridge functional ecology, genetics and evolutionary biology to improve the understanding of plant adaptation to environmental changes.
The Economics Spectrum Drives Root Trait Strategies in Mediterranean Vegetation
A database of 320 Mediterranean woody and herbaceous species is compiled to critically assess if the classic economics spectrum theory can be broadly extended to roots and advocate for the need to unify and standardize the criteria and approaches used within the economics framework between leaves and roots, for the sake of theoretical consistency.
Intraspecific Trait Variation and Coordination: Root and Leaf Economics Spectra in Coffee across Environmental Gradients
This study provides among the first evidence that plants from the same species differentiate from one another along an intraspecific RES, indicating that above and belowground responses of plants to managed (or natural) environmental gradients are likely to occur independently from oneAnother.
Root functional parameters along a land‐use gradient: evidence of a community‐level economics spectrum
This study demonstrates the existence of a general trade-off in root construction at a community level, which operates within all root types, suggesting that all plant tissues are controlled by the trade-offs between resource acquisition and conservation.


A plant economics spectrum of litter decomposability
It is demonstrated that the local ‘PES’ has important afterlife effects on carbon turnover by driving coordinated decomposition rates of different organs across species by underpinning the afterlife effects of the PES on whole-plant litter decomposability.
The worldwide leaf economics spectrum
Reliable quantification of the leaf economics spectrum and its interaction with climate will prove valuable for modelling nutrient fluxes and vegetation boundaries under changing land-use and climate.
The plant traits that drive ecosystems: Evidence from three continents
Whether the screening techniques remain operational in widely contrasted circumstances, to test for the existence of axes of variation in the particular sets of traits, and for their links with ‘harder’ traits of proven importance to ecosystem functioning are discovered.
Towards a worldwide wood economics spectrum.
It is suggested that, similar to the manifold that tree species leaf traits cluster around the 'leaf economics spectrum', a similar 'wood economics spectrum' may be defined.
TRY – a global database of plant traits
The improved availability of plant trait data in the unified global database is expected to support a paradigm shift from species to trait-based ecology, offer new opportunities for synthetic plant trait research and enable a more realistic and empirically grounded representation of terrestrial vegetation in Earth system models.
Decoupled leaf and stem economics in rain forest trees.
By simplifying the multivariate ecological strategies of tropical trees into positions along these two spectra, the results provide a basis to improve global vegetation models predicting responses of tropical forests to global change.
The Evolution of Plant Functional Variation: Traits, Spectra, and Strategies
Patterns of functional trait variation and trait correlations within and among habitats in relation to several environmental and trade‐off axes are described and whether such patterns reflect natural selection and can be considered plant strategies are asked.
Land-plant ecology on the basis of functional traits.
Global Leaf Trait Relationships: Mass, Area, and the Leaf Economics Spectrum
These traits are approximately distributed proportional to leaf area instead of mass, as expected for a light- and carbon dioxide–collecting organ, much of the structure in the mass-normalized LES results from normalizing area-proportional traits by mass.
Understanding ecological variation across species: area-based vs mass-based expression of leaf traits.
This article discusses the paper by Lloyd et al. (2013), a paper that sets out to criticize the leaf economic spectrum (LES), and identifies the two key arguments from the paper that are concerned with the equivalence between these two statements.