Natural ecosystems are dynamic, not static. For instance, plants themselves alter properties of soils and ecosystems. Thus, the characteristics of different plant species influence important ecosystem functions such as soil fertility, soil development and plant productivity, and thus in part control ecosystem functioning. The specifics of these controls, however, are very poorly understood due to difficulties in separating effects of climate or soils from those of vegetation. To explore the way in which plants can influence their own environment, we will utilize a unique common-garden experiment of 32-year old monoculture stands with 14 temperate tree species in Poland. This is the only such experiment in the world. The proposed research will compare and contrast leaf and fine root traits and their effects on ecosystem by examining: above- and belowground tissue physiology, structure and productivity, litter decomposition and soil chemistry and development.