Coupling spectral and resource-use complementarity in experimental grassland and forest communities

Anna K. Schweiger, Jeannine Cavender-Bares, Shan Kothari, Philip A. Townsend, Michael D. Madritch, Jake J. Grossman, Hamed Gholizadeh, Ran Wang, John A. Gamon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Reflectance spectra provide integrative measures of plant phenotypes by capturing chemical, morphological, anatomical and architectural trait information. Here, we investigate the linkages between plant spectral variation, and spectral and resource-use complementarity that contribute to ecosystem productivity. In both a forest and prairie grassland diversity experiment, we delineated n-dimensional hypervolumes using wavelength bands of reflectance spectra to test the association between the spectral space occupied by individual plants and their growth, as well as between the spectral space occupied by plant communities and ecosystem productivity. We show that the spectral space occupied by individuals increased with their growth, and the spectral space occupied by plant communities increased with ecosystem productivity. Furthermore, ecosystem productivity was better explained by inter-individual spectral complementarity than by the large spectral space occupied by productive individuals. Our results indicate that spectral hypervolumes of plants can reflect ecological strategies that shape community composition and ecosystem function, and that spectral complementarity can reveal resource-use complementarity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20211290
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1958
StatePublished - Sep 8 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • ecosystem productivity
  • individual plant growth
  • n-dimensional hypervolume concept
  • optical types
  • spectral types
  • spectroscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Coupling spectral and resource-use complementarity in experimental grassland and forest communities'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this