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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 - May

Jornal club outdoors meeting

May 2017

On the last of May, we had the final Journal club meeting for this academic year. To make it different we decided to have an outdoors event. We went to an adventure trail and hike in Elva-Vitipalu landscape reserve. After the hike, we went to Vapramäe Nature center to summarize this year and make plans for the coming academic year.

Beautiful spring in Estonian forests!

May 2017

In the end of May, Plant Ecology Laboratory went on a trip to learn about Estonian forest site types. Based on the legendary ordination scheme by Erich Lõhmus we identified various site types from dry heath forests to wet eutrophic boreal forests. The excursion was led by Prof. Martin Zobel, who stressed that in order identify the types correctly it is important to consider the understorey vegetation as well as soil conditions. Knowing the forest site types is crucial to understand forest ecosystem functioning.

Visit of Prof. J. Peter W. Young

May 2017

Prof. J. Peter W. Young visited Department of Botany and Centre of Excellence EcolChange to give a seminar and discuss with graduate students and post-docs. Prof. Young is based at York University, United Kingdom. He is Editor-in-Chief of open access journal Genes, and world-renown scientist for his research on bacterial genetics and biodiversity of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi.

Experiment "arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi in restoration" is all set!

May 2017

Fieldwork to test the effect of inoculation with native arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi in plant community restoration is finished! As the main experiment in Tanel Vahters PhD project, a total of 432 test-plots have been set up in restored alvar grasslands, wooded meadows and depleted oil-shale quarries in Estonia. In each community type, plant seeds and a suitable native arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal inoculant was added. How the addition of a suitable fungal partner affects vegetation restoration speed and quality will be determined from the data collected during the following years. We thank the landowners, collaborators and everyone who took part in making this happen!

43. Theoretical Biology spring school

May 2017

This year’s Theoretical Biology spring school took place on May 12th-14th in Aluoja, North-Eastern Estonia and was dedicated to the 225th anniversary of Karl Ernst von Baer. During these three spring days, there were presentations about the life of Baer and his contribution to science, as well as about progress at the forefront of life sciences. Members of our working group participated actively in the spring school: PhD student Tanel Vahter gave a talk about issues related to practical applications of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi and PhD student Siim-Kaarel Sepp wrote about the impacts of human activities on biodiversity of these fungi. We thank all participants and the organizers for superb weekend!

The papers presented at the spring school were published in Schola Biotheoretica XLIII, accessible here.

Visiting PhD student

May 2017

In May, PhD student Rita Filep visited our working group. She is studying in the University of Pécs, Hungary, where she is supervised by Ágnes Farkas. Rita investigates biogeography of invasive plant Helianthus tuberosus, including the role of arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis in the invasion process. During her stay at Plant Ecology Lab her supervisor was Mari Moora.

Visit of Francis M. Martin

May 2017

Prof. Francis M. Martin visited Department of Botany and Centre of Excellence EcolChange to give a seminar and discuss with graduate students and post-docs. Prof. Martin is Scientific Director of Laboratory of Excellence ARBRE at INRA-Nancy, France, editor at New Phytologist (and other journals), and world-renown scientist exploring fungal life styles using comparative genomics.

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