For my PhD research (supervised by Prof. Kyle W. Tomlinson), I was interested in assessing whether spiny plants possessed distinct trait syndromes relative to non-spiny plants from the same biome.We grew over 90 spiny and non-spiny species under a common garden condition. We then measured and analysed defence, growth, leaf economic spectrum, and biomass allocations traits on these saplings. We found that saplings of spiny and non-spiny plants diverge in their growth-defence syndromes only in savannas (manuscript in preparation). When focusing on spiny saplings and characterizing spine emergence, we demonstrated that significant differences exist between species possessing spines (modified leaves), thorns (modified branches) and prickles (extension of the cortex/epidermis) during early ontogeny (see paper here). In a further analyses, we have shown that there are distinct growth-defence strategies across the different spine types (manuscript in preparation). We also evaluated the relationships between the leaf economic spectrum (LES-an ecological concept use to characterize resource acquisition) and different types of plant defence (leaf structural defence, spines, and chemical defence). Here, we provided the first analyses to consider non-direct leaf structural defences (i.e. spines) in relation to the LES. We showed that the LES is coupled with structural defences in spiny species whereas quantitative chemical defence (tannins) was independently expressed (see paper here).