Global Leaf Trait Database Supports Earth System Models


In science, researchers collaborate so that they can complement existing disciplinary expertise, gain access to specialized equipment, or expand the depth and breadth of datasets that can be used to derive new knowledge. Motivated by this latter objective, a research team has compiled a global database (GlobResp) that details rates of leaf dark respiration and associated traits from sites that span Arctic tundra to tropical forests. This database builds on earlier research and was supplemented by recent field campaigns and unpublished data. In keeping with other trait databases, GlobResp provides insights on how physiological traits, especially rates of dark respiration, vary as a function of environment and how that variation can be used to inform terrestrial biosphere models and land surface components of Earth system models. Although an important component of plant and ecosystem carbon budgets, respiration has only limited representation in models. This database gives users a unique perspective of the climatic controls on respiration, thermal acclimation and evolutionary adaptation of dark respiration, and insights into the covariation of respiration with other leaf traits.


  • Atkin, O. K., et al. 2015. “Global Variability in Leaf Respiration in Relation to Climate, Plant Functional Types, and Leaf Traits,” New Phytologist 206(2), 614–36. DOI: 10.1111/nph.13253.
  • Wullschleger, S. D., J. M. Warren, and P. E. Thornton. 2015. “Leaf Respiration (GlobResp)–Global Trait Database Supports Earth System Models,” New Phytologist 206(2), 483–85. DOI: 10.1111/nph.13364.