sCaleGrassDiv - Do the mechanisms of land-use effects on grassland plant diversity depend on spatial scales and environmental contexts?

First meeting: 30.01.-03.02.2023

Anna Kuzemko
Oksana Buzhdygan

iDiv member:
Jonathan Chase

Project summary:
Temperate grasslands are among the richest ecosystems in plant species at small spatial scales (grain sizes) but most degraded by land use. Understanding how land use alters diversity and composition of grassland plant communities across environmental gradients remains limited in several aspects. First, most empirical studies test the diversity responses to ecological drivers at a single grain size, even though strong evidence exists that different mechanisms influence diversity at different spatial scales. The studies testing spatial gradients focus majorly on species number and rarely consider functional traits and other diversity facets. Also, evidence is limited to solely vascular plant communities and specific habitat types, while the comparison across different vegetation groups (bryophytes, lichens) and habitat gradients is required for understanding the generalised patterns and context-dependencies of diversity drivers. Given these limitations the existing results strongly differ in the strength, shape, and even sign of the land-use effects and other environmental drivers, and the spatial scales at which they act. Major source of such divergent findings might be that these drivers operate simultaneously as parts of a whole interacting system, affecting diversity both directly and indirectly. This project will address these gaps by integrating the complex multivariate network of potential diversity drivers (including land use, biogeographic gradients, local site properties), explicitly measured for each plot, and test their effects on plant community composition and different diversity facets across spatial scales. For this we analyze the comprehensive data collected with a standardized sampling at 1638 plots of different grain sizes across various grassland habitats.

In person participants: tba

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