Adaptive plasticity to drought of Grime's CSR strategies

Víctor M. Escobedo, Marco A. Molina-Montenegro, Cristian Salgado-Luarte, Gisela C. Stotz, Ernesto Gianoli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Grime's strategies (competitor, stress tolerator, ruderal; CSR) represent viable trait combinations with which species deal with environmental conditions. CSR strategies are broadly used to understand plant adaptation to the environment, yet their plastic responses have received little attention. A globally-calibrated tool (StrateFy) estimates CSR strategies using specific leaf area (SLA), leaf dry matter content (LDMC) and leaf area (LA) data, but these three traits can hardly characterise whole-plant responses to the environment individually. CSR strategies reflect tradeoffs among growth, survival and reproduction, at both leaf and whole-plant levels, thus integrating several functions. We hypothesised that CSR strategies and the three constituent traits would show independent plasticity patterns, and that CSR strategies would be more likely to show adaptive responses, i.e. to fit expected functional responses to environmental gradients. We compared phenotypic plasticity to drought in single traits (SLA, LDMC and LA) with the integrated plasticity of the resulting CSR strategy. The study species was the invasive plant Mesembryanthemum crystallinum, which is distributed in arid and semiarid Chile. We found that trait plasticity was rather idiosyncratic and contrary to what would be expected from a functional adjustment to drought: LDMC did not change (expected response: increase) and SLA increased (expected response: decrease). Conversely, plastic responses of CSR strategy and LA were consistent with functionally adaptive responses to drought in all populations: S-strategy increased, while C-strategy and LA decreased. We advocate the use of Grime's CSR theory as an integrative approach to further our understanding of adaptive plasticity in plants.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere09754
Issue number11
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023


  • CSR strategies
  • environmental stress
  • global change
  • integrated plasticity
  • invasive species
  • phenotypic plasticity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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