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The GenTree Leaf Collection: Inter- and intraspecific leaf variation in seven forest tree species in Europe

Motivation: Trait variation within species can reveal plastic and/or genetic responses to environmental gradients, and may indicate where local adaptation has occurred. Here, we present a dataset of rangewide variation in leaf traits from seven of the most ecologically and economically important tree species in Europe. Sample collection and trait assessment are embedded in the GenTree project (EU-Horizon 2020), which aims at characterizing the genetic and phenotypic variability of forest tree species to optimize the management and sustainable use of forest genetic resources. Our dataset captures substantial intra- and interspecific leaf phenotypic variability, and provides valuable information for studying the relationship between ecosystem func-tioning and trait variability of individuals, and the response and resilience of species to environmental changes. Main types of variable contained: We chose morphological and chemical characters linked to trade-offs between acquisition and conservation of resources and water use, namely specific leaf area, leaf size, carbon and nitrogen content and their ratio, and the isotopic signature of stable isotope 13C and 15N in leaves. Spatial location and grain: We surveyed between 18 and 22 populations per species, 141 in total, across Europe. Time period: Leaf sampling took place between 2016 and 2017. Major taxa and level of measurement: We sampled at least 25 individuals in each population, 3,569 trees in total, and measured traits in 35,755 leaves from seven European tree species, i.e. the conifers Picea abies, Pinus pinaster and Pinus sylvestris, and the broadleaves Betula pendula, Fagus sylvatica, Populus nigra and Quercus petraea. Software format: The data files are in ASCII text, tab delimited, not compressed.

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