The role of timing in intraspecific trait ecology

Olivia L. Cope, Laura A. Burkle, Jordan R. Croy, Kailen A. Mooney, Louie H. Yang and William C. Wetzel


Intraspecific trait variation has tremendous importance for species interactions and community composition. A major source of intraspecific trait variation is an organism’s developmental stage; however, timing is rarely considered in studies of the ecological effects of intraspecific variation. Here, we examine the role of time in the ecology of intraspecific trait variation, focusing on plants and their interactions with other organisms. Trait variation due to differences in developmental timing has unique features and dynamics, distinguishing it from variation due to genes or the environment. When time is considered in studies of intraspecific trait ecology, the degree of variability in timing within a population becomes a key factor structuring trait-mediated ecological interactions and community processes.

Trends in Ecology and Evolution (TREE)