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Functional traits of invasive plant species and implications for biogeochemical cycling

Titel Englisch Functional traits of invasive plant species and implications for biogeochemical cycling
Gesuchsteller/in Güsewell Sabine
Nummer 108461
Förderungsinstrument Projektförderung (Abt. I-III)
Forschungseinrichtung Institut für Integrative Biologie Departement Umweltwissenschaften ETHZ
Hochschule ETH Zürich - ETHZ
Hauptdisziplin Oekologie
Beginn/Ende 01.10.2005 - 30.09.2008
Bewilligter Betrag 167'990.00
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Keywords (6)

invasion ecology; comparative ecology; functional traits; plant-soil interactions; decomposition; biogeochemical cycles

Lay Summary (Englisch)

Lay summary
Invasive plants can greatly modify the rates of biogeochemical cycling inthe invaded ecosystems. In particular, they often enhance nutrientavailability, probably because plant traits that contribute to make aspecies invasive (e.g. rapid growth, nutrient-rich biomass, large leafarea) tend to be associated with properties that stimulate soil processes(e.g. abundant root exudation, high litter production, nutrient-rich andrapidly decaying litter). Despite this overall trend, the effects ofinvasive plants on biogeochemical cycling are highly variable. Moreover,relationships between plant traits and effects on biogeochemical cyclinginvolve a variety of processes, which act at various time scales. There isstill no general basis for predicting the potential impact of a givenspecies on the invaded ecosystem.
Our central hypothesis is that in theabsence of dramatic alterations to ecosystems (erosion, fire, flooding),invasive plant species will modify rates of biogeochemical cycling if andto the extent to which they differ functionally from the resident species.Thus, it may be possible to predict how a particular invasive species willaffect soil processes in a particular ecosystem based on a limited numberof plant traits.
Our specific aims are
1. To determine relevantfunctional traits of invasive alien species in Switzerland, and theirsimilarity or difference with traits of species that dominate the invadedvegetation;
2. To determine relationships between the effects of plantson soil properties and processes and functional traits of theseplants;
3. To test whether and how relationships under (2) depend onproperties of the invaded ecosystem (resident plant community, nutrientavailability, water level);
4. Based on (1)-(3), to develop a modelrelating the effects of plant invasions on biogeochemical cycling tofunctional traits of the invading species and of the invadedvegetation.
The project combines three experimental approaches:
1.Field survey of vegetation stands invaded by alien species;
2.Comparative growth experiment with 18 herbaceous species (both invasivesand residents);
3. Simulated invasion by Solidago gigantea in variousnative communities.
Besides its theoretical significance, our work willalso be relevant for the control of alien species in Switzerland: if thepotential impact of an invasive species can be predicted before thespecies has become locally abundant enough to exert this impact, controlmeasures will be cheaper and more successful.
Direktlink auf Lay Summary Letzte Aktualisierung: 21.02.2013

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