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Plant Ecology Laboratory

Research in our lab focuses on diversity patterns in biological communities, and on the interactions underlying these patterns. The main questions we address are: how do communities vary along natural gradients and gradients of human impact? What are the major assembly rules shaping communities; and are they attributable to biotic interactions or environmental heterogeneity? What are the roles of different biotic interactions - including competition, facilitation, herbivory and symbiosis - in structuring communities? Read more

News archive - February

A ’smoking gun’ on the Ice Age megafauna extinctions

February 2014

On Feb.6th 2014 the following paper was published in Nature, where three members of our lab – John Davison, Mari Moora and Martin Zobel - acted as the shared first authors:

Willerslev, E., Davison,J., Moora, M., Zobel, M., Coissac, E., Edwards, M.E., Lorenzen, E.D., Vestergard, M., Gussarova, G., Haile, J., Craine, J., Gielly, L., Boessenkool, S., Epp, L.S., Pearman, P.B., Cheddadi, R., Murray, D., Brathen, K.A., Yoccoz, N., Binney, H., Cruaud, C., Wincker, P., Goslar, T., Alsos, I.G., Bellemain, E., Brysting, A.K., Elven, R., Sonstebo, J.H., Murton, J., Sher, A., Rasmussen, M., Ronn, R., Mourier, T., Cooper, A., Austin, J., Moller, P., Froese, D., Zazula, G., Pompanon, F., Rioux, D., Niderkorn, V., Tikhonov, A., Savvinov, G., Roberts, R.G., MacPhee, R.D.E., Gilbert, M.T., Kjaer, K.H., Orlando, L., Brochmann, C., Taberlet, P. 2014. Fifty thousand years of Arctic vegetation and megafaunal diet. Nature 506: 47-51.

So far the common image of much of the northern hemisphere during the latest Ice Age has been of a landscape dominated by grass steppe. The new results show this to be exaggerated. The landscape was far more diverse and dominated by protein-rich forbs. After the Ice Age the forbs became rarer and some of the large forb-eating mammals went extinct or near-extinct.

Severe climate changes put an extreme stress on animals and plants. After the Last Glacial Maximum the composition of the ecosystems changed. New kinds of vegetation invaded – but without the large herbivores following. When debating the impact of climate change one should not expect the return of the former ecosystems even though the climate change may be reversed.

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Plant Ecology Lab welcomes visiting PhD student

February 2014

We welcome visiting PhD student Sara Valero Cervero. During her stay with plant ecology lab she is supervised by Maarja Öpik.

Sara studies diversity of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi in semiarid environments in Sierra de Baza Natural Park in Spain. Her supervisor is Dr. Conception Azcon-Aguilar (Estacion Experimental del Zaidin, CSIC, Granada, Spain).

The seminar of Plant Ecology Lab

February 2014

This year’s seminar of Plant Ecology Lab took place on February 10-11 in Narva-Jõesuu. Participants of the seminar gave talks about their current as well as forthcoming projects. In addition to members of Plant Ecology Lab, collaborating members from Plant Evolutionary Ecology workgroup and Mycology workgroup participated in the seminar.

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