• Premise of the study: Trees and shrubs tend to occupy different niches within and across ecosystems; therefore, traits related to their resource use and life history are expected to differ. Here we analyzed how growth form is related to variation in integration among vessel traits, wood density, and height. We also considered the ecological and evolutionary consequences of such differences. • Method: In a sample of 200 woody plant species (65 shrubs and 135 trees) from Argentina, Mexico, and the United States, standardized major axis (SMA) regression, correlation analyses, and ANOVA were used to determine whether relationships among traits differed between growth forms. The influence of phylogenetic relationships was examined with a phylogenetic ANOVA and phylogenetically independent contrasts (PICs). A principal component analysis was conducted to determine whether trees and shrubs occupy different portions of multivariate trait space. • Key results: Wood density did not differ between shrubs and trees, but there were significant differences in vessel diameter, vessel density, theoretical conductivity, and as expected, height. In addition, relationships between vessel traits and wood density differed between growth forms. Trees showed coordination among vessel traits, wood density, and height, but in shrubs, wood density and vessel traits were independent. These results hold when phylogenetic relationships were considered. In the multivariate analyses, these differences translated as significantly different positions in multivariate trait space occupied by shrubs and trees. • Conclusions: Differences in trait integration between growth forms suggest that evolution of growth form in some lineages might be associated with the degree of trait interrelation.
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