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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

Land use changes affect alpine grasslands

February 2016

Guillermo Bueno investigated with co-authors how land use changes affect alpine grasslands during two decades at the Spanish Central Pyrenees. The study shows that the most recent changes of traditional management by grazing, with an overall decrease in livestock numbers and replacement of sheep with cattle, have lead to drastic changes. In areas with high livestock stocking rates (mainly cattle), grassland biomass and greenness decreased, while in areas with relatively low stocking rates, biomass and greenness increased. This indicates that two opposite processes are simultaneously occurring: over-grazing in cattle ranging areas, and under-grazing in abandoned areas. The findings suggest that a change in the livestock management is needed to prevent losing some of the most valuable and traditional semi-natural grasslands of Central Pyrenees.

Gartzia M.; Pérez-Cabello, F.; Bueno, C. G. & Alados, C. L. 2016. Physiognomic and physiologic changes in mountain grasslands in response to environmental and anthropogenic factors. Applied Geography DOI:10.1016/j.apgeog.2015.11.007.

Can we identify species of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi on the basis of DNA sequences?

February 2016

Tom Bruns and John Taylor—mycologists at University of California, Berkeley—question in today’s issue of Science whether the Virtual Taxa as used by Davison et al. in Science last year, allow species level identification of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi. Maarja Öpik, John Davison, Mari Moora, Meelis Pärtel and Martin Zobel explain in their response why and how the Virtual Taxon approach is appropriate for describing diversity patterns of Glomeromycota.



Applying a new toolkit to relate mycorrhization to soil properties and plant diversity

February 2016

Our PhD student Maret used a novel method (proposed by Moora 2014) to reveal contrasting patterns between arbuscular and overall mycorrhization depending on soil properties and plant diversity in the temperate zone. The approach tested on Estonian grasslands and forests shows promise for further description of larger-scale patterns of mycorrhizal symbiosis.

Gerz, M., Bueno, C. G., Zobel, M. & Moora, M. 2016. Plant community mycorrhization in temperate forests and grasslands: relations with edaphic properties and plant diversity. Journal of Vegetation Science 27:89–99.

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