Community mean traits as additional indicators to monitor effects of land-use intensity on grassland plant diversity

Pfestorf, H.; Weiß, L.; Müller, J.; Boch, S.; Socher, S. A.; Prati, D.; Schöning, I.; Weisser, W.; Fischer, M.; Jeltsch, F. (2013). Community mean traits as additional indicators to monitor effects of land-use intensity on grassland plant diversity. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics, 15(1), pp. 1-11. Amsterdam: Elsevier 10.1016/j.ppees.2012.10.003

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Semi-natural grasslands, biodiversity hotspots in Central-Europe, suffer from the cessation of traditional land-use. Amount and intensity of these changes challenge current monitoring frameworks typically based on classic indicators such as selected target species or diversity indices. Indicators based on plant functional traits provide an interesting extension since they reflect ecological strategies at individual and ecological processes at community levels. They typically show convergent responses to gradients of land-use intensity over scales and regions, are more directly related to environmental drivers than diversity components themselves and enable detecting directional changes in whole community dynamics. However, probably due to their labor- and cost intensive assessment in the field, they have been rarely applied as indicators so far. Here we suggest overcoming these limitations by calculating indicators with plant traits derived from online accessible databases. Aiming to provide a minimal trait set to monitor effects of land-use intensification on plant diversity we investigated relationships between 12 community mean traits, 2 diversity indices and 6 predictors of land-use intensity within grassland communities of 3 different regions in Germany (part of the German ‘Biodiversity Exploratory’ research network). By standardization of traits and diversity measures, use of null models and linear mixed models we confirmed (i) strong links between functional community composition and plant diversity, (ii) that traits are closely related to land-use intensity, and (iii) that functional indicators are equally, or even more sensitive to land-use intensity than traditional diversity indices. The deduced trait set consisted of 5 traits, i.e., specific leaf area (SLA), leaf dry matter content (LDMC), seed release height, leaf distribution, and onset of flowering. These database derived traits enable the early detection of changes in community structure indicative for future diversity loss. As an addition to current monitoring measures they allow to better link environmental drivers to processes controlling community dynamics.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS) > Plant Ecology
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS)

UniBE Contributor:

Boch, Steffen; Socher, Stephanie; Prati, Daniel and Fischer, Markus

Subjects:

500 Science > 580 Plants (Botany)

ISSN:

1433-8319

Publisher:

Elsevier

Language:

English

Submitter:

Peter Alfred von Ballmoos-Haas

Date Deposited:

12 Feb 2014 08:12

Last Modified:

18 May 2016 17:27

Publisher DOI:

10.1016/j.ppees.2012.10.003

Uncontrolled Keywords:

Biodiversity Exploratories, Biological conservation, (Semi-natural) Grasslands, Plant functional traits, Indicators, Land-use intensity

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.38672

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/38672

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