Covariations between plant functional traits emerge from constraining parameterization of a terrestrial biosphere model

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article – Annual report year: 2019Researchpeer-review


  • Author: Peaucelle, Marc

    CNRS, France

  • Author: Bacour, Cédric

  • Author: Ciais, Philippe

    CNRS, France

  • Author: Vuichard, Nicolas

    CNRS, France

  • Author: Kuppel, Sylvain

    Noveltis, France

  • Author: Penuelas, Josep

    University of Aberdeen, United Kingdom

  • Author: Belelli Marchesini, Luca

    Edmund Mach Foundation , Italy

  • Author: Blanken, Peter D.

    University of Colorado Boulder, United States

  • Author: Buchmann, Nina

    Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, Switzerland

  • Author: Chen, Jiquan

    Michigan State University, United States

  • Author: Delpierre, Nicolas

    Universite Paris-Saclay, France

  • Author: Desai, Ankur R.

    University of Wisconsin-Madison, United States

  • Author: Dufrene, Eric

    Universite Paris-Saclay, France

  • Author: Gianelle, Damiano

    Edmund Mach Foundation , Italy

  • Author: Gimeno-Colera, Cristina

    Mediterranean Center for Environmental Studies (CEAM), Spain

  • Author: Gruening, Carsten

    DG Joint Research Centre, Italy

  • Author: Helfter, Carole

    Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, United Kingdom

  • Author: Hörtnagl, Lukas

    Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, Switzerland

  • Author: Ibrom, Andreas

    Air, Land & Water Resources, Department of Environmental Engineering, Technical University of Denmark, Bygningstorvet, 2800, Kgs. Lyngby, Denmark

  • Author: Joffre, Richard

    Universite de Montpellier, France

  • Author: Kato, Tomomichi

    Hokkaido University, Japan

  • Author: Kolb, Thomas E.

    Northern Arizona University, United States

  • Author: Law, Beverly E.

    Oregon State University, United States

  • Author: Lindroth, Anders

    Lund University, Sweden

  • Author: Mammarella, Ivan

    University of Helsinki, Finland

  • Author: Merbold, Lutz

    International Livestock Research Institute, Kenya

  • Author: Minerbi, Stefano

    Autonomous Province of Bolzano, Italy

  • Author: Montagnani, Leonardo

    Autonomous Province of Bolzano, Italy

  • Author: Šigut, Ladislav

    Global Change Research Institute CAS, Czech Republic

  • Author: Sutton, Mark A

    Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, United Kingdom

  • Author: Varlagin, Andrej

    Russian Academy of Sciences, Russian Federation

  • Author: Vesala, Timo

    University of Helsinki, Finland

  • Author: Wohlfahrt, Georg

    University of Innsbruck, Austria

  • Author: Wolf, Sebastian

    Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, Switzerland

  • Author: Yakir, Dan

    Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel

  • Author: Viovy, Nicolas

    CNRS, France

View graph of relations

Aim: The mechanisms of plant trait adaptation and acclimation are still poorly understood and, consequently, lack a consistent representation in terrestrial biosphere models (TBMs). Despite the increasing availability of geo-referenced trait observations, current databases are still insufficient to cover all vegetation types and environmental conditions. In parallel, the growing number of continuous eddy-covariance observations of energy and CO2 fluxes has enabled modellers to optimize TBMs with these data. Past attempts to optimize TBM parameters mostly focused on model performance, overlooking the ecological properties of ecosystems. The aim of this study was to assess the ecological consistency of optimized trait-related parameters while improving the model performances for gross primary productivity (GPP) at sites.

Location: Worldwide. 

Time period: 1992–2012. 

Major taxa studied: Trees and C3 grasses. 

Methods: We optimized parameters of the ORCHIDEE model against 371 site-years of GPP estimates from the FLUXNET network, and we looked at global covariation among parameters and with climate. 

Results: The optimized parameter values were shown to be consistent with leaf-scale traits, in particular, with well-known trade-offs observed at the leaf level, echoing the leaf economic spectrum theory. Results showed a marked sensitivity of trait-related parameters to local bioclimatic variables and reproduced the observed relationships between traits and climate. 

Main conclusions: Our approach validates some biological processes implemented in the model and enables us to study ecological properties of vegetation at the canopy level, in addition to some traits that are difficult to observe experimentally. This study stresses the need for: (a) implementing explicit trade-offs and acclimation processes in TBMs; (b) improving the representation of processes to avoid model-specific parameterization; and (c) performing systematic measurements of traits at FLUXNET sites in order to gather information on plant ecophysiology and plant diversity, together with micro-meteorological conditions.

Original languageEnglish
JournalGlobal Ecology and Biogeography
Issue number9
Pages (from-to)1351-1365
Publication statusPublished - 2019
CitationsWeb of Science® Times Cited: No match on DOI

    Research areas

  • Data assimilation, Optimization, ORCHIDEE, Plant acclimation, Plant functional traits, Terrestrial model

ID: 185408614