Functional Traits and Plasticity of Plants in Ecological Research and Education

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Plant functional traits are any morphological, physiological and phenological features, which indirectly affect plant fitness through their three basic components of plant individual performance - growth, reproduction and survival. These features represent also a keystone for plant functional groups, which are similar in three aspects - function on the level of organism, response to environmental factors and effect on ecosystems. Functional approach in ecology and vegetation study enables to evaluate plant communities on the base of species function in a community, and to relate functional structure of plant communities to particular environmental gradients. Species plasticity has many aspects that mirror species adaptations to the environmental conditions and which then also translate into functional structuring of plant communities. This approach is thus a novel and exciting mode how to carry on plant ecology, both in research and education at universities.

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