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Towards a trait-based ecology of wetland vegetation
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Stockholm Resilience Centre.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-1340-2039
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences.
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(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

1. Functional traits mechanistically capture plant responses to environmental gradients as well as plant effects on ecosystem functioning. Yet most trait-based theory stems from terrestrial systems and extension to other habitats can provide new insights.

2. Wetlands differ from terrestrial systems in conditions (e.g. soil water saturation, anoxia, pH extremes), plant adaptations (e.g. aerenchyma, clonality, ubiquity of bryophytes) and important processes (e.g. denitrification, peat accumulation, methane emission). Wetland plant adaptations and trait (co-)variation can be situated along major plant trait trade-off axes (e.g. the resource economics spectrum), but soil saturation represents a complex stress gradient beyond a simple extension of commonly studied water availability gradients.

3. Traits that affect ecosystem functioning overlap with patterns in terrestrial systems. But wetland-specific traits that mediate plant effects on soil redox conditions, microbial communities and on water flow, as well as trait spectra of mosses, vary among wetland types.

4. Synthesis: With increasing availability of quantitative plant traits a trait-based ecology of wetlands is emerging, with the potential to advance process-based understanding and prediction. We provide an interactive cause-and-effect framework that may guide research efforts to disentangle the multiple interacting processes involved in scaling from environmental conditions to ecosystem functioning via plant communities. 

Keyword [en]
Plant–climate interactions, Bryophytes, Carbon sequestration, Hydrologic regulation, Methane emission, Nutrient retention, Peatlands, Plant economics spectrum, Plant functional traits, Trade-offs
National Category
Ecology
Research subject
Natural Resources Management
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-133473OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-133473DiVA: diva2:963135
Funder
A multiscale, cross‐disciplinary approach to the study of climate change effect on ecosystem services and biodiversity
Available from: 2016-09-08 Created: 2016-09-08 Last updated: 2016-09-08Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Function follows Form: Trait-based approaches to climate change effects on wetland vegetation and functioning
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Function follows Form: Trait-based approaches to climate change effects on wetland vegetation and functioning
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Climate change and habitat fragmentation are altering the structure and functioning of plant communities world-wide. Understanding how, why and with what consequences are major challenges of ecology today. Trait-based approaches focus on functional rather than taxonomic identity to facilitate process-based explanation and prediction. This thesis develops new ways of operationalising traits to understand plant community responses to the environment and community effects on ecosystem functioning and services. Wetlands, distinct in nature and patchy in their distribution, serve as a natural laboratory to extend plant trait theory and as inspiration for metacommunity modelling.

The first part of the thesis (Papers 1 and 2) focuses on wetland plant traits in relation to current and future environmental conditions, ecosystem functioning and ecosystem services. Paper 1 surveys the state of knowledge regarding (i) ultimate and proximate drivers of wetland plant community functional composition, trait covariation and responses of individual traits along gradients, as well as (ii) trait effects on the sets of ecosystem properties and processes that underlie the generation of three key wetland ecosystem services (regulation of water flow, water quality, and climate). Paper 2 modifies species distribution modelling to predict future changes in plant community trait distributions due to climate change in central Sweden, which allows a qualitative estimate of changes in ecosystem service potential. Climate change induced functional changes may benefit water quality and flow regulation provided by fens and riparian wetlands, but compromise carbon sequestration capacity in bogs.

The second part of the thesis (Papers 3 and 4) develops trait-based metacommunity models to study the interplay of local and regional dynamics on species, community and whole-metacommunity responses to climate change. Paper 3 finds model assumptions about species dispersal capacity to strongly influence predictions of diversity loss following climate change. While differences in species dispersal capacity drastically increase predicted extinction risk, more realistic models based on an empirically derived seed mass – seed number trade-off strongly moderate these predictions. Without considering fitness effects of covarying traits, models that include variable dispersal capacities thus might overestimate extinction risk from climate change. Paper 4 studies the development and recovery of the regional average trait-lag of response trait distributions, as a direct measure of the instantaneous realised metacommunity response to temperature change with implications for levels of ecosystem functioning. The dynamical response jointly depended on local response capacity and regional adaptive re-organisation via species range shifts. Where habitat was scarce, connectivity network properties mediated response capacity and may guide conservation priorities.

This thesis makes contributions to plant trait ecology, wetland functional ecology, ecosystem service science and metacommunity theory. As a whole it furthers progress towards a predictive ecology that can bridge scales from individual physiology to ecosystem dynamics and anticipate global change effects on biodiversity and ecosystem functioning.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, 2016. 45 p.
Keyword
Functional traits, Plant community ecology, Trait distributions, Wetlands, Ecosystem functioning, Ecosystem Services, Climate change, Dispersal, Metacommunity modelling
National Category
Ecology
Research subject
Natural Resources Management
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-133488 (URN)978-91-7649-499-8 (ISBN)978-91-7649-500-1 (ISBN)
Public defence
2016-11-02, William-Olssonsalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 14, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Funder
A multiscale, cross‐disciplinary approach to the study of climate change effect on ecosystem services and biodiversity
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 1: Manuscript. Paper 3: Manuscript. Paper 4: Manuscript.

 

Available from: 2016-10-10 Created: 2016-09-08 Last updated: 2016-09-28Bibliographically approved

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Moor, HelenHylander, KristofferLindborg, ReginaNorberg, Jon
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