Scientists have created the world's largest global plant database that is expected to promote biodiversity research and Earth-system sciences.
The compilation of three million traits or functional properties for 69,000 out of the world's 300,000 plant species has already been published.
The vast project is the outcome of worldwide collaboration of scientists from 106 re-search institutions. The initiative, known as TRY is hosted at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena (Germany).
It serves to counter the major bottleneck of lack of trait data for sufficiently large numbers of species in modeling the effects of climate change on the ecosystem and whole-earth scales.
"This huge advance in data availability will lead to more reliable predictions of how vegetation boundaries and ecosystem properties will shift under future climate and land-use change scenarios," said Dr Ian Wright from Macquarie University.
"The TRY global database also promises to revolutionise biodiversity research, leading to a new understanding of how not only the numbers of species (biodiversity) but also the variation among species in their traits (functional diversity) together effect ecosystem functions and services," he added.
The first release of the TRY database has been published in the journal Global Change Biology.