Italy is among the European countries with the greatest plant diversity due to both a great environmental heterogeneity and a long history of man–environment interactions. Trait-based approaches to ecological studies have developed greatly over recent decades worldwide, although several issues concerning the relationships between plant functional traits and the environment still lack sufficient empirical evaluation. To draw insights on the association between plant functional traits and direct and indirect human and natural pressures on the environmental drivers, this article summarizes the existing knowledge on this topic by reviewing the results of studies performed in Italy adopting a functional trait approach on vascular plants, bryophytes and lichens. Although we recorded trait measurements for 1418 taxa, our review highlighted some major gaps in plant traits knowledge: Mediterranean ecosystems are poorly represented; traits related to belowground organs are still overlooked; traits measurements for bryophytes and lichens are lacking. Finally, intraspecific variation has been little studied at community level so far. We conclude by highlighting the need for approaches evaluating trait–environment relationship at large spatial and temporal scales and the need of a more effective contribution to online databases to tie more firmly Italian researchers to international scientific networks on plant traits.
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