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Picture: The photograph shows an unmown meadow containing numerous large, grey, rectangular, open-topped containers for mesocosms containing grassland plants. The containers are under open semi-circular tunnel-shaped metal poles that can presumably be covered with foil. Shrubs and deciduous trees can be seen in the background.

Drought is important in grasslands worldwide. Temperate grasslands experience years with low rainfall and are subject to extreme drought events that lead to plant drought stress. With global climate change, temperatures are projected to increase and water availability to decrease in temperate grasslands during the growing season. At the same time, the intensity and frequency of drought events is expected to increase. The importance of drought in driving community structure and ecosystem function in grasslands is therefore expected to even increase in the future.
However, although we have plenty of evidence for the importance of drought in grasslands we still lack a thorough understanding that enables us to predict which species/traits will benefit or suffer from drought, and therefore the effects on community composition and on ecosystem function and resilience.

 

Picture: The photo shows a summer meadow with a grazing flock of sheep. Two of the sheep are black. In the background a ringed climate measuring station, bushes, shrubs and coniferous and deciduous trees can be seen
To better understand the role of nutrients on drought resistance in grasslands, we combine vegetation data from Biodiversity Exploratories along a land-use gradient with our findings

In this research project we will address the following main questions:

  • how does drought tolerance vary among grassland species in the Exploratories?
  • what traits are important for determining differential drought tolerance of grassland species?
  • to what extend is drought important in shaping community composition and diversity across space and time, and what is the role of neutral vs. deterministic processes (and habitat filtering vs. niche differentiation)?
  • does the importance of drought for community assembly change with land-use?

We will conduct common garden drought experiments on the most important species in the Exploratory grasslands to comparatively assess species drought responses and potentially underlying traits. We will combine the results with Biodiversity Exploratory data on vegetation composition and moisture variation in the experimental plots to evaluate the relative importance of drought for community assembly.


Doc
Jung E., Gaviria J., Sun S., Engelbrecht B. M. J. (2020): Comparative drought resistance of temperate grassland species: testing performance trade-offs and the relation to distribution. Oecologia 192, 1023–1036. doi:10.1007/s00442-020-04625-9
More information:  doi.org
Doc
Sun S. (2019): Comparative drought resistance of temperate grassland species: mechanisms, prediction and relation to species distribution across moisture gradients. Dissertation, University Bayreuth. doi: 10.15495/EPub_UBT_00004322
More information:  doi.org
Doc
Sun S., Jung E., Gaviria J., Engelbrecht B. M. J. (2020): Drought survival is positively associated with high turgor loss points in temperate perennial grassland species. Functional Ecology 34 (4), 788-798. doi: 10.1111/1365-2435.13522
More information:  doi.org

Project in other funding periods

Scientific assistants

Prof. Dr. Bettina Engelbrecht
Project manager
Prof. Dr. Bettina Engelbrecht
Universität Bayreuth
Dr. Christina Bogner
Employee
Dr. Christina Bogner
Dr. Eun-Young Jung
Employee
Dr. Eun-Young Jung
Shanwen Sun
Employee
Shanwen Sun
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