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Abstract Detail

Ecological Section

Lienin, Patrick [1], Dirks, Inga [2], Gruenzweig, Jose [3], Kleyer, Michael [4].

Can plant trait responses to the environment and their effects on ecosystem properties be generalized across biomes?

A combined analysis of trait responses to the environment, and the effects on ecosystem properties has recently been proposed. However, empirical applications have not been implemented. In this study, we compared plant trait responses to the environment and effects on ecosystem properties in the context of two agricultural landscapes in a temperate and Mediterranean biome. To determine these trait-environment relationships, this study was conducted at ï¬eld, pasture and heathland sites forming a strong land use gradient in Northwest Germany and Israel. We used structural equation modeling (SEM) to evaluate the interactions between environment (disturbance, soil nutrients, soil water field capacity), plant traits (e.g. specific leaf area, leaf dry matter content, leaf nitrogen content) and ecosystem properties (productivity, soil organic carbon) for the temperate and Mediterranean datasets. The response of stem dry matter content and leaf traits to the environment and their effect on above-ground standing biomass were comparable in both biomes. Trait-trait relationships were not as consistent as suggested by global data-sets. Moreover, direct paths from environment to ecosystem properties were much stronger at the Israeli site than at the German site where traits rather than the environment controlled productivity and soil carbon. Response-effect linkages to standing biomass could be generalized across the two biomes. The results underline the relevance of stem dry matter content and selected leaf traits in predicting the effects of land use on carbon pools and fluxes. On the other hand, we observed context-dependent results that preclude universal, linear response-effect relationships on some carbon pools and fluxes. We found that traits of the most abundant species are the most important in determining effects on ecosystem properties, following Grime's mass ratio hypothesis. Functional diversity was of less importance, indicating that complementarity may only have subsidiary effects on standing biomass across relatively strong land-use gradients. Furthermore, a temporal escape strategy (ephemerals) on unused, dry sites may create the same trait composition such as a weedy strategy on heavily used sites, suggesting the existence of similar functional states under very different environmental regimes worldwide.

Broader Impacts:

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1 - University Of Connecticut, Plant Science, 1390 Storrs Rd, Storrs, CT, 06269, USA
2 - The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Robert H. Smith Institute of Plant Sciences and Genetics in Agriculture, Rehovot, 76100, Israel
3 - The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Robert H. Smith Institute of Plant Sciences and Genetics in Agriculture, Rehovot, 76100, Israel
4 - University of Oldenburg, Landscape Ecology Group, P.O. Box 2503, Oldenburg, 26111, Germany

functional traits
ecosystem functions
Mediterranean ecosystems
temperate ecosystems
path modelling.

Presentation Type: Poster:Posters for Sections
Session: P
Location: Battelle South/Convention Center
Date: Monday, July 9th, 2012
Time: 5:45 PM
Number: PEC014
Abstract ID:787

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