Plant Ecology

, Volume 219, Issue 11, pp 1295–1305 | Cite as

Morphological and functional traits of herbaceous plants with different functional types in the European Northeast

  • I. V. DalkeEmail author
  • A. B. Novakovskiy
  • S. P. Maslova
  • Y. A. Dubrovskiy


We aimed to identify marker traits indicating the functional types of plants in the European Northeast. We try to answer the following questions. Which ecological factors make the largest contribution to identifying the functional types of plants in the North and can CO2-exchange and related traits be used as markers? The data were collected from 1000-km latitudinal gradient across middle, north, and far north boreal forests in the east border of Europe. Comparative analysis of 102 species from 36 plant families enabled us to determine the marker traits indicating plant functional types. Competitor species have maximal plant height, comparatively low leaf dry matter content (LDMC), and accumulate high amounts of nitrogen in leaves. These species also have comparatively high photosynthetic and respiration rates. Ruderal species have low values of LDMC, and maximal photosynthetic rate, respiration rate, and photosynthetic nitrogen-use efficiency (PNUE). Slow-growing stress tolerators have a low photosynthetic rate, low respiration rate, and low levels of nitrogen and PNUE. The specific leaf area (SLA) of these plants shows a highly significant correlation with the light regime. In the boreal zone, SLA was found to be more closely related to light availability than to the plant functional type, indicating that SLA is unsuitable for use as a marker trait. We found strong correlations between plant height, respiration rate, and photosynthetic activity and soil nutrition according to Ellenberg values. Soil mineral element contents and acidity were found to have a significant influence on the functional types of plants.


Boreal forests Plant functional type CSR classification Photosynthesis Respiration Nitrogen Carbon Ellenberg values 



The authors thank Professor Tamara Golovko and Professor Svetlana Degteva for their critical comments. The research was supported by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research and Government of Komi Republic (18-44-110015), project “Physiology and stress tolerance of plants and poikilohydric photoautotrophs in the North” (AAAA-A17-117033010038-7), Programs of the Ural Branch of RAS (18-4-4-20, 18-4-4-14), and by the project “Structural and functional patterns of plant communities, diversity of flora, lichen and mycobiota of the southern part of the national park “Yugyd va” (AAAA-A16-116021010241-9). We would like to thank Editage ( for English language editing.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (XLSX 61 kb)
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Supplementary material 2 (DOCX 48 kb)


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Biology of Komi Scientific Centre of the Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of SciencesSyktyvkarRussia

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