A new, ecophysiologically focussed approach to quantifying plant functional traits is described,including brief descriptions of techniques for measurement. Traits included relate to sun/shade adaptation, adaptation and exposure to drought stress, adaptation to salt stress, photosynthetic pathways, adaptations to temperature extremes, and adaptation to low elemental availability stress. These functional traits are not necessarily intended to supplant those currently in use, but are instead intended to improve the functional characterization of an ecological unit of vegetation.Thus, these more ecophysiologically-relevant traits might be used alone or in addition to morphological and other traits currently in use, depending on the questions being addressed by the investigator.
An attempt has been made to propose the use of traits that are relatively time-independent,taxon-independent, and that can be compared to other major ecophysiological groupings of plants (e.g., sun/shade plants, mesophytes/xerophytes, stressed/nonstressed plants). A number of the traits are stress-related, yet can be used to gain insight into plant adaptations to local environmental/microenvironmental
conditions, regardless of stress level.