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Unraveling the mechanisms determining the diversity of tropical plant communities: ferns and lycophytes as an example

Gesuchsteller/in Kessler Michael
Nummer 125468
Förderungsinstrument Projektförderung (Abt. I-III)
Forschungseinrichtung Institut für Systematische Botanik und Botanischer Garten Universität Zürich
Hochschule Universität Zürich - ZH
Hauptdisziplin Botanik
Beginn/Ende 01.05.2009 - 31.10.2012
Bewilligter Betrag 375'000.00
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Keywords (12)

Alpha diversity; Beta diversity; Biodiversity; Biogeography; Ferns; Productivity; Tropical mountains; elevational gradient; Ecuador; Indonesia; island biogeography; Philippines, productivity

Lay Summary (Englisch)

Lead
Lay summary
Why do some areas have more plant species than others? This question has been asked for over two centuries, but answers remain elusive. In the last few years, there have been important theoretical advances, suggesting that two factors may be crucial, but actual field data remain scarce. First, the energy available in an ecosystem may limit the number of species that can co-occur. Second, current species richness may be a historical legacy of speciation and extinction. In the first of these cases, the present-day species numbers would correspond to the maximum number of species that can co-occur at a site, in the second case more species might conceivably live side by side but are simply not available. This fundamental distinction has important implications for our understanding of how biodiversity is regulated and how we should manage and preserve it. The present project aims to address these questions by studying the way in which tropical fern communities are structured (first three years of the project, funded here) and later by analyzing the way in which these communities have evolved (planned for the future). The current project phase includes two complementary PhD thesis projects. In Ecuador, one student will study the relationship of biomass production (a measure of energy availability) of terrestrial ferns along an elevational transect from the Amazon rain forest to the treeline at 4000 m. Over two years, we will mark and measure all individual ferns in 24 plots and monitor their growth. The other thesis will take place in Indonesia and the Philippines. Here, we will study the ferns at 1100-1200 m on 13 islands of different size, ranging from tiny islands only a few km2 in size to huge New Guinea (780.000 km2). Because larger islands typically have more species than smaller ones, this natural experiment will allow us to study the rules by which fern communities are assembled. Together, the two projects will hopefully give us an indication to which degree the number of fern co-occuring at a given site is determined by the regional species pool, i.e. the number of species available in a larger area, or by the energy avialable to the ferns at a site. At the same time, we will collect samples that will be used for evolutionary analyses in a future phase of the project. This project is carried out in close collaboration with botanists from Ecuador, Indonesia and the Philippines, and is one of the most detailed studies of tropical plants - other than trees - ever undertaken.
Direktlink auf Lay Summary Letzte Aktualisierung: 21.02.2013

Verantw. Gesuchsteller/in und weitere Gesuchstellende

Mitarbeitende

Publikationen

Publikation
Comparing species richness patterns of epiphytic and terrestrial ferns along elevational and latitudinal gradients
Karger D.N., Kluge J., Kessler M. (2016), Comparing species richness patterns of epiphytic and terrestrial ferns along elevational and latitudinal gradients, in Zotz G. (ed.), Springer, Berlin, 53-54.
Elevational diversity patterns as an example for evolutionary and ecological dynamics in ferns and lycophytes
Kessler M., Karger D.N., Kluge J. (2016), Elevational diversity patterns as an example for evolutionary and ecological dynamics in ferns and lycophytes, in Journal of Systematics and Evolution , 54, 617-625.
Global patterns and drivers of phylogenetic structure in island floras
Weigelt P., Kissling W.D., Kisel Y., Fritz S.A., Karger D.N., Kessler M., Lehtonen S., Svenning J.-C., Kreft H. (2015), Global patterns and drivers of phylogenetic structure in island floras, in Scientific Reports, 5, 12213.
The importance of species pool size for community composition
Karger D.N., Tuomisto H., Amoroso V.B., Darnaedi D., Hidayat A., Abrahamczyk S., Kluge J., Lehnert M., Kessler M. (2015), The importance of species pool size for community composition, in Ecography, 38, 1243-1253.
Validation of a new combination in the genus Alsophila (Cyatheaceae-Polypodiopsida).
Lehnert M., Coritico F.P., Darnaedi D., Hidayat A., Kluge J., Karger D.N., Kessler M. (2015), Validation of a new combination in the genus Alsophila (Cyatheaceae-Polypodiopsida)., in Systematic Botany, 40, 386-386.
Island biogeography from regional to local scales: evidence for a spatially scaled echo pattern of fern diversity in the Southeast Asian archipelago
Karger D.N., Weigelt P., Amoroso V., Darnaedi D., Hidayat A., Kreft H., Kessler M. (2014), Island biogeography from regional to local scales: evidence for a spatially scaled echo pattern of fern diversity in the Southeast Asian archipelago, in Journal of Biogeography, 41, 250-260.
Taxonomic and ecological notes on the Alsophila hornei complex (Cyatheaceae-Polypodiopsida), with the description of the new species A. phlebodes from New Guinea
Lehnert Marcus, Coritico F.P, Darnaedi D., Hidayat A., Kluge J., Karger D.N., Kessler M. (2013), Taxonomic and ecological notes on the Alsophila hornei complex (Cyatheaceae-Polypodiopsida), with the description of the new species A. phlebodes from New Guinea, in Systematic Botany, 38, 875-886.
A new species of Lindsaea (Lindsaeaceae, Polypodiopsida) from Mt. Hamiguitan, Mindanao, Philippines
Karger Dirk N., Lehtonen Samuli, Amoroso Victor B., Kessler Michael (2012), A new species of Lindsaea (Lindsaeaceae, Polypodiopsida) from Mt. Hamiguitan, Mindanao, Philippines, in Phytotaxa, 56, 15-20.
Bryophyte cover of trees as proxy for air humidity in the tropics
Karger Dirk N., Kluge Jürgen, Abrahamczyk Stefan, Salazar Laura, Homeier Jürgen, Lehnert Marcus, Amoroso Victor B., Kessler Michael (2012), Bryophyte cover of trees as proxy for air humidity in the tropics, in Ecological Indicators, 20, 277-281.
The effect of area on local and regional elevational patterns of species richness
Karger Dirk N., Kluge Jürgen, Krömer Thorsten, Hemp Andreas, Lehnert Marcus, Kessler Michael (2011), The effect of area on local and regional elevational patterns of species richness, in Journal of Biogeography, 38, 1177-1185.

Zusammenarbeit

Gruppe / Person Land
Formen der Zusammenarbeit
LIPI, Bogor Indonesien (Asien)
- vertiefter/weiterführender Austausch von Ansätzen, Methoden oder Resultaten
- Publikation
- Forschungsinfrastrukturen
University of Central Mindanao Philippinen (Republik) (Asien)
- vertiefter/weiterführender Austausch von Ansätzen, Methoden oder Resultaten
- Publikation
- Forschungsinfrastrukturen
- Austausch von Mitarbeitern
Universität Göttingen Deutschland (Europa)
- vertiefter/weiterführender Austausch von Ansätzen, Methoden oder Resultaten
- Publikation
- Forschungsinfrastrukturen

Kommunikation mit der Öffentlichkeit

Kommunikation Titel Medien Ort Jahr
Medienarbeit: Printmedien, Online-Medien Vielfalt auch auf kleinen Inseln 20 Minuten Deutschschweiz 2012

Auszeichnungen

Titel Jahr
Best Student Presentation at 25th Annual Conference of the Plant Population Biology Section of the E

Verbundene Projekte

Nummer Titel Start Förderungsinstrument
146906 Unraveling the mechanisms determining the diversity of tropical plant communities: examples from the early diverging land plants 01.11.2013 Projektförderung (Abt. I-III)

Abstract

Understanding the causes determining the variation of community richness and composition is one of the longest standing and at the same time most current topics in ecological and biogeographical research. In the last two decades, exciting new theoretical (e.g., null models, local-regional relationships, mechanisms determining productivity-richness relationships) and methodological (e.g., molecular phylogenetics, fingerprinting) developments have opened whole new avenues for biodiversity research. Based on over a decade of research on diversity patterns of tropical ferns and lycophytes, I have developed a comprehensive research program that aims at applying these new approaches to ferns. This group of plants shows clearcut diversity patterns in tropical mountains and is of global distribution allowing for replicated studies. In the present project phase, I want to conduct two complementary subprojects. The first will use the natural experiment of islands of different sizes (100 - 780.000 km2) in the Philippines and Indonesia to evaluate the role of the regional species pool in determining the local diversity of fern assemblages. The second project will relate the local diversity of ferns to the productivity (energy availability) along an elevational gradient in Ecuador (500 - 4000 m). Together, these projects will allow an assessment of the degree to which the local diversity of ferns is determined by local ecological conditions, involving either resource availability or species interactions such as competition. In addition, the fertility status of the plants will be taken into account to assess the potential impact of dispersal (source-sink dynamics) on the observed richness patterns. Later phases of the overall project will apply molecular methods to study the evolutionary development of the fern assemblages analyzed in the present study and the population dynamics of the species, to add the historical/evolutionary component at different temporal scales.
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