@Article{IPB-2128, author = {Herz, K. and Dietz, S. and Haider, S. and Jandt, U. and Scheel, D. and Bruelheide, H. }, title = {{Predicting individual plant performance in grasslands.}}, year = {2017}, pages = {8958-8965}, journal = {Ecol Evol}, doi = {10.1002/ece3.3393}, url = {http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ece3.3393/full}, volume = {7}, abstract = {Plant functional traits are widely used to predict community productivity. However, they are rarely used to predict individual plant performance in grasslands. To assess the relative importance of traits compared to environment, we planted seedlings of 20 common grassland species as phytometers into existing grassland communities varying in land-use intensity. After 1 year, we dug out the plants and assessed root, leaf, and aboveground biomass, to measure plant performance. Furthermore, we determined the functional traits of the phytometers and of all plants growing in their local neighborhood. Neighborhood impacts were analyzed by calculating community-weighted means (CWM) and functional diversity (FD) of every measured trait. We used model selection to identify the most important predictors of individual plant performance, which included phytometer traits, environmental conditions (climate, soil conditions, and land-use intensity), as well as CWM and FD of the local neighborhood. Using variance partitioning, we found that most variation in individual plant performance was explained by the traits of the individual phytometer plant, ranging between 19.30% and 44.73% for leaf and aboveground dry mass, respectively. Similarly, in a linear mixed effects model across all species, performance was best predicted by phytometer traits. Among all environmental variables, only including land-use intensity improved model quality. The models were also improved by functional characteristics of the local neighborhood, such as CWM of leaf dry matter content, root calcium concentration, and root mass per volume as well as FD of leaf potassium and root magnesium concentration and shoot dry matter content. However, their relative effect sizes were much lower than those of the phytometer traits. Our study clearly showed that under realistic field conditions, the performance of an individual plant can be predicted satisfyingly by its functional traits, presumably because traits also capture most of environmental and neighborhood conditions.} }