Data from: Within-species patterns challenge our understanding of the Leaf Economics Spectrum

  • Beverly Law (Contributor)
  • Meera L. Sethi (Contributor)
  • Grayson Badgley (Contributor)
  • Janneke HilleRisLambers (Contributor)
  • Logan T. Berner (Contributor)
  • Leander D.L. Anderegg (Contributor)



The utility of plant functional traits for predictive ecology relies on our ability to interpret trait variation across multiple taxonomic and ecological scales. Using extensive datasets of trait variation within species, across species, and across communities, we analyzed whether and at what scales ‘leaf economics spectrum’ (LES) traits show predicted trait-trait covariation. We found that most variation in LES traits is often, but not universally, at high taxonomic levels (between families, between genera in a family). However, we found that trait covariation shows distinct taxonomic scale-dependence, with some trait correlations showing opposite signs within versus across species. LES traits responded independently to environmental gradients within species, with few shared environmental responses across traits or across scales. We conclude that, at small taxonomic scales, plasticity may obscure or reverse the broad evolutionary linkages between leaf traits, meaning that variation in LES traits cannot always be interpreted as differences in resource use strategy.,Within-species leaf trait dataIncludes data files and a metadata spreadsheet for previously unpublished data on leaf trait variation across geographic or elevation gradients in: Eucalyptus obliqua & Eucalyptus ovata (Eucalyptus_LeafTrait_Data_20180220.csv), Populus tremuloides (Populus_tremuloides_LeafTrait_Data_20180202.csv), Quercus gambelii (Quercus_gambelii_LeafTrait_Data_20180220.csv), and Aster alpigenus, Castilleja parviflora, Erythronium montanum, Lupinus arcticus, Valeriana sitchensis, and Veratrum viride (MtRainierFlowers_LeafTrait_Data_20180220.csv). Previously published data used in the analysis can be found at DOI: 10.1038/nature0240,, and 10.1111/,
Date made availableMay 1 2018

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