Recently Zhu et al. published a paper on New Phytologist, titled 'The contribution of phenotypic plasticity to complementary light capture in plant mixtures'.
Within this paper, a concept and a simulation-based approach was provided to partition the effect of net biodiversity caused by the effect of interspecific trait differences and species distribution and the effect by phenotypic plasticity. The net biodiversity effect was partitioned into a community structure effect (interspecific trait differences in combination with the spatial distribution of species), and a plasticity effect (plasticity in shoot development in response to the mixture environment).
Wheat-maize intercropping was used as an elementary example of a mixed vegetation. Using FSPM, the whole vegetation light capture was simulated for scenarios with and without plasticity based on empirical plant trait data measured in the field. Light capture was 23% higher in the intercrop with plasticity than the expected value from monocultures, of which 36% was attributable to community structure and 64% was attributable to plasticity.
The results indicate that predicting the performance of mixed species systems based on plant traits in the respective monocultures without considering plastic responses may result in a considerable deviation from the actual performance. Therefore the study indicates the importance of considering plasticity, which contributes to both intra- and interspecific variation, in the study of species-diverse plant communities.
Zhu J, Van der Werf W, Anten NPR, Vos J, Evers JB. 2015. The contribution of phenotypic plasticity to complementary light capture in plant mixtures. New Phytologist. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/nph.13416/abstract