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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 - November

New paper about using seed mixtures in plant community restoration

November 2011

Tsipe Aavik and her Swiss colleagues have published a paper „Genetic consequences of using seed mixtures in restoration: A case study of a wetland plant Lychnis flos-cuculi“ in Biological Conservation.


Standard seed mixtures originating from seed companies are often used for ecological restoration in areas with impoverished species pool. However, the genetic background of these seed mixtures is commonly unknown. In this paper Tsipe Aavik and her colleagues compared the genetic diversity, inbreeding and genetic structure of sown and natural populations of Lychnis flos-cuculi. They found that sown populations had notably higher inbreeding than natural ones. Furthermore, sown populations were genetically very different from natural populations. Higher inbreeding and distinct genetic composition of sown plants may decrease the fitness of restored populations and may hence jeopardize the effectiveness of restoration measures. Therefore, far more attention should be paid to the genetic background and provenance of seed mixtures used for restoration.

New paper addressing the effects of litter

November 2011

Kadri Koorem, Jodi Price and Mari Moora published a paper titled "Species-specific effects of woody litter on seedling emergence and growth of herbaceous plants".

In this paper they tried to disentangle the effects of spruce and hazel litter to find a mechanistic explanation for understorey community pattern described earlier (read here). They showed that the effects of litter depend highly on both type and amount of litter; can be non-additive when litter is mixed, and vary for seedlings in emergence and growth phase. Read more.

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