Grassland plant communities from around the world have been shown to shift with chronic, long-term increases in nutrient availability. However, the underlying mechanisms driving some species to increase in abundance, while others decline, remain an open question. Inter- and intraspecific variation in plant functional traits may determine which species are positively vs negatively impacted by global change. For example, we have found that species that increase in abundance with chronic increases in nutrient availability have traits associated with fast growth, such as higher specific leaf area. Additionally, species that are responsive to global change drivers tend to exhibit a greater ability to shift in their trait expression under altered conditions. These results can aid in prediction of future community shifts in response to global change.