Ecological Research

, Volume 25, Issue 4, pp 691–692 | Cite as

Plant responses to heterogeneous environments: scaling from shoot modules and whole-plant functions to ecosystem processes

  • Akira Mori
  • Ülo Niinemets
Special Feature Plant responses to heterogeneous environments

Plant individuals are characterized by modular architecture, consisting of hierarchically positioned similar basic semi-autonomous units termed “modules” that have species- and plant functional-type-specific morphological and physiological characteristics (White 1979; Harper 1985; Silvertown and Gordon 1989; Prusinkiewicz 2000; Kawamura 2010). The basic units underlying the modular organization can be buds, metamers, shoots, branches, or ramets depending on plant functional type (Barthélémy and Caraglio 2007; Kawamura 2010). The plants exhibit a characteristic acclimation “behavior” by changing the size, shape, number, and within-plant arrangement of such modular units in response to variation in local distribution and availability of resources required. Although the degree of plastic changes of the module attributes is genetically and mechanically restricted, module-level plasticity plays a key role in whole-plant acclimation to local resource heterogeneity (White 1979; Silvertown...


Phenotypic Plasticity Carbon Gain Plant Functional Type Functional Diversification Resource Capture 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We are grateful to Dr. Kouki Hikosaka and to all anonymous reviewers for their invaluable and insightful comments on all manuscripts in this special issue.


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Copyright information

© The Ecological Society of Japan 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate School of Environment and Information SciencesYokohama National UniversityYokohamaJapan
  2. 2.Institute of Agricultural and Environmental SciencesEstonian University of Life SciencesTartuEstonia

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