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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 - July

Invertebrate herbivory in the tundra is widespread and sensitive to changes in climate

July 2017

Recent studies have shown that biotic interactions influence macroecological patterns and global dynamics, stressing the need to consider them beyond local and regional scales. In the context of global changes, we still know little about the role of key biotic interactions in the dynamics and fate of whole biomes. In this study, the intensity of background invertebrate herbivory (low intensity but chronic biomass removal) of a common tundra plant (Betula nana-glandulosa complex) was investigated in relation to latitude and climate. C. Guillermo Bueno from the University of Tartu was part of the research team led by Isabel C. Barrio and Mikhail V. Kozlov. They collected samples from 56 locations across the tundra biome in the first coordinated effort to measure invertebrate herbivory in tundra, outside the well-studied effects of insect outbreaks. Background herbivory was detected at nearly all tundra sites. The intensity of background herbivory, although low, was stronger with higher temperatures and, as such, is likely to increase in a warmer Arctic. This paper represents the first coordinated effort combining two international research networks in the tundra: the Herbivory Network (HN) and Network for Arthropods of the Tundra (NeAT).

Barrio, I.C., Lindén, E., Te Beest, M. et al. 2017. Background invertebrate herbivory on dwarf birch (Betula glandulosa-nana complex) increases with temperature and precipitation across the tundra biome. Polar Biol  doi:10.1007/s00300-017-2139-7




FACES workshop

July 2017

Tanel Vahter participated in FACES (Freely Accessible Central European Soil) workshop on 25.06-1.07 in Kaunas, Lithuania. During the week, course participants went through an intensive course about WRB (World Reference Base, FAO) soil classification. In addition, lectures on national soil classification systems in the partner countries were given. Fresh knowledge was tested during fieldwork on the various soils of Lithuania. Unlike national soil classification systems, WRB gives an opportunity for scientists across the world to describe and classify soils based on unified system. This gives opportunities for a better understanding and fruitful collaborations. University of Life Sciences scientist Endla Reintam, who was also an instructor on the course, led the Estonian team.

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