My PhD focused on the role of traits affecting the success/failure and rarity/abundance of coastal California woody plant species in different parts of the landscape. In a broader sense this work is a combination of a more complete understanding of the physiological role of specific plant traits (see Reich et al.) and community assembly theory (see Diamond and Cody, Weiher and Keddy and Diaz et al.).
Cornwell, W.K., D.W. Schwilk, and D. D. Ackerly. 2006. A trait-based test for habitat filtering: convex hull volume. Ecology 87: 1465-1471.
Preston, K. A., W. K. Cornwell. and J. Denoyer. 2006. Wood density and vessel traits as distinct correlates of ecological strategy in 51 California coast range angiosperms. New Phytologist 170: 1007-818.
Ackerly D.D. and W.K. Cornwell. 2007. A trait-based approach to community assembly: partitioning of species trait values into within- and among-community components. Ecology Letters 10: 135-145.
Cornwell, W.K. and D.D. Ackerly 2009. Community assembly and shifts in the distribution of trait values across an environmental gradient in coastal California. Ecological Monographs 79: 109-126
Cornwell, W.K. and D.D. Ackerly. 2010. A link between plant traits and abundance: evidence from woody plants in coastal California. Journal of Ecology 98: 814-821.