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Biodiversity II: Effects of Plant Biodiversity on Population and Ecosystem Processes - Experiment 120

Plant traits

Years Available: 2008

Principle Investigators

Tilman, David
Reich, Peter
Knops, Johannes
Wedin, David


In the summers of 2007 and 2008, leaf traits were measured in the Cedar Creek biodiversity experiment [E120]. Three fully mature leaves were sampled from ten individuals of each species collected within the maintained experimental plots as well as from the unmaintained experimental plots. Each individual was identified from a randomly chosen plot to cover the range of diversity treatments. Fresh leaves were scanned on a flatbed scanner on the same day as collection with petioles and sheaths removed. Leaf area, perimeter and Feret's diameter were calculated from the scanned leaves using ImageJ software (Rasband 1997-2004). This allowed calculation of perimeter per area (P/A, cm/cm-2), which is empirically correlated with leaf hydraulic conductance across a wide range of taxa (Sack et al. 2003). Perimeter per leaf area x Feret's diameter is a unitless measure of leaf lobedness Cavender-Bares et al 2006 that influences the leaf radiation balance (Givnish 1976). After scanning, leaves were dried at 65oC for three days and weighed to calculate specific leaf area (cm2/g).

Seed mass was determined by collecting seed heads for ten plants per species with fully mature seeds, air drying the seed heads, and then weighing together ten seeds (and dividing by ten) to calculate a mean seed mass per plant. For five species, seed mass was taken from online commercial databases, including the Native Seed Network, Wildflower Farm Inc., and Prairie Moon Nursury. Plant height was measured at maturity from the root collar to the apical meristem or to the top of the vegetative canopy for five to ten individuals per species. Some values were also taken from the USDA Plants Database.

View All Experiment and Dataset Methods

Environmental Data Initiative data package

EDI Package ID DOI


1YearYear sampled
2SpeciesSpecies Name
3Area_of_leaf_blade_cm2Leaf laminar area (cm^2)squareCentimeters
4P/Apermeter per area (cm-1)waveNumber
5P_A*LPerimeter per area times leaf laminar length (unitless)dimensionless
6SLA_cm2/gSpecific leaf length (cm^2/g)centimetersSquaredPerGram
7Seed_weight_(g)Seed weight (g)gram
8height_(m)Average plant height at maturity (m)meter


2008Achillea millefolium9.3700333337.6258621151.547935759115.57790250.00006250.9144
2008Amorpha canescens9.63013333310.92030950.49275956590.789387920.00237261.2192
2008Agropyron repens3.1231333338.1948939671.445975819154.95584810.001820.79248
2008Agropyron smithii1.31326666716.901215870.62239158869.976306440.0033333330.9144
2008Andropogon gerardi8.1043666677.0703409573.158165697100.60454160.0009252.4384
2008Asclepias tuberosa6.6738888892.7521075372.995940701160.94137060.007170.6096
2008Baptisia leucantha13.331966672.1182235173.439099504107.10275480.01776011.8288
2008Bouteloua curtipendula3.74313333318.304512641.48469707375.480907550.00221780.762
2008Bouteloua gracilis0.406540.535632310.17243946174.822927570.00158570.48768
2008Crepis tectorum0.277819.835672220.127682976178.07056160.0001715331.00584
2008Elymus canadensis11.721820573.8761495175.16128824168.51063620.00470.9144
2008Koeleria cristata0.72653333341.020879590.3182096935.704858630.00029720.4572

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Biodiversity II: Effects of Plant Biodiversity on Population and Ecosystem Processes : Plant traits

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