The associations between functional traits and species response to environments have aroused more and more ecologists’ interest and can provide insights into understanding and explaining how plants respond to the environment. Here, we applied a hierarchical generalized linear model to quantifying the role of functional traits in plants response to topography. Functional traits data, including specific leaf area, maximum height, seed mass and stem wood density, together with elevation, aspect and slope were used in the model. In our results, species response to elevation and aspect were modulated by maximum height and seed mass. Shorter-statured tree species had a more positive response than taller ones to an increase in elevation. Compared to light-seeded trees, heavy-seeded trees responded more positively to more southerly aspects where the soil was drier. In this study, the roles of maximum height and seed mass in determining species distribution along elevation and aspect gradients were highlighted respectively where plants are confronted with low-temperature and soil moisture deficit conditions. This work contributes to the understanding of how traits may be associated with species responses along mesoscale environmental gradients.