Since the sPlot Meeting I, the sPlot Steering Committee, the sPlot Core Team, the sPlot Postdoc Jürgen Dengler and the IT specialist Stephan Hennekens have been working on compiling a common global vegetation-plot database covering all biomes of the Earth that can be combined with the existing global trait database TRY. At the sPlot Meeting II in December 2014, a first version of the sPlot database (sPlot 1.0) was released for testing purposes and planning of research papers. Since then, the content has been extended and improved enormously. On 21 February 2016 finally sPlot 2.0, the first release for scientific studies, was published with more than 1.1 million geo- referenced plots from all seven continents and 130 countries. Since then, sPlot was further expanded under the coordination of Borja Jiménez-Alfaro first, and Francesco Maria Sabatini then. On 5 August 2020, sPlot v3.0 was released, which further expands version 2.0 and includes almost 2 million plots providing a better coverage of South America, Asia and Australia. It is evident that this unique data source that combines fine spatial grain with maximum spatial extent is opening new analytical options for community ecologists and macroecologists that go far beyond the original aims of the working group. And the data are available to the sPlot Consortium members for any thinkable analysis that considers at least a continental extent. Check the latest publications.

sPlot - Plant trait-environment relationships across the world’s biomes “Trait-vegetation”

sPlot is the name of a working group resulting from the first meeting of the Synthesis Centre (sDiv) of the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv). The acronym combines “s” from the synthesis perspective of all sDiv workshops with “plot” standing for the first representative global vegetation-plot database that will be established by the working group as a core tool address the sPlot aims. Presently, the sPlot Consortium has more than 100 members from all around the world.


The trait composition of plant communities is determined by abiotic, biotic and historical factors. However, the relative strength of macro-climatic factors in explaining trait-environment relationships at the local scale remains unclear. With the aim to achieve a better understanding, this first sDiv meeting assembled a unique group of vegetation-plot data holders and data analysts. Our main objective is to assess the relative importance of macroclimate in explaining trait variation in local plant communities worldwide. Specifically, the following questions shall be answered: (i) To which extent are relationships between traits preserved across environmental gradients worldwide, irrespective of macro climate? (ii) To which degree is the effect of local (abiotic and biotic) drivers mediated by climate? Such knowledge becomes highly relevant to devise local management measures to mitigate the negative effects of climate change, i.e. temperature increase or precipitation decrease.

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