Plant functional type

Plant functional types (PFTs) is a system used by climatologists to classify plants according to their physical, phylogenetic and phenological characteristics as part of an overall effort to develop a vegetation model for use in land use studies and climate models.[1] PFTs provide a finer level of modeling than biomes,[1] which represent gross areas such as desert, savannah, deciduous forest. In creating a PFT model, areas as small as 1 km2 are modeled by defining the predominant plant type for that area, interpreted from satellite data[1] or other means. For each plant functional type, a number of key parameters are defined, such as fecundity, competitiveness, resorption (rate at which plant decays and returns nutrients to the soil after death), etc.; the value of each parameter is determined or inferred from observable characteristics such as plant height, leaf area, etc.[2]

Climatologists and ecologists struggle to determine which minimal set of plant characteristics best model the actual responses of the biosphere in response to climate changes.[2]

See also


  1. "Plant Functional Types". Community Land Model. National Center for Atmospheric Research.
  2. Lavorel, Sandra; Díaz, Sandra; Cornelissen, J. Hans C.; Garnier, Eric; Harrison, Sandy P.; McIntyre, Sue; Pausas, Juli G.; Pérez-Harguindeguy, Natalia; Roumet, Catherine; Urcelay, Carlos (2007). "Plant Functional Types: Are We Getting Any Closer to the Holy Grail?". In Canadell, JG; Pataki, D; Pitelka, L (eds.). Terrestrial Ecosystems in a Changing World (PDF). The IGBP Series. Berlin: Springer-Verlag. ISBN 9783540327295.
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