sUnderfoot - Functional diversity of belowground plant strategies in a rapidly changing world

First meeting: 09.-13.01.2023

PIs:
Joana Bergmann
Alessandra Fidelis

iDiv member:
Alexandra Weigelt
Helge Bruelheide

Project summary:
Our understanding of the diversity of plant functional strategies is incomplete and lacks cohesion across sub-disciplines of biodiversity science. The realm of belowground functional diversity is particularly relevant to ecosystem resilience under global change, yet the sub-disciplines that study belowground traits are surprisingly fractured into three main research domains: clonal organs and bud banks, rooting depth, and the root economics space. Greater collaboration among scientists across the Global North and South will galvanize progress toward a synthetic understanding of plant functional diversity because each region contains experts in distinct sub-disciplines. The overall aim of the project is to unify these disparate realms of belowground biodiversity science by bringing together a balanced diversity of experts from the three sub-disciplines that span a range of career stages and geographical locations. We propose that synthetic progress can be achieved through a cost-benefit analysis with respect to carbon allocation into each of these three belowground components for optimal acquisition of water and nutrients and to persist following disturbance. The three workshops will each produce tangible high-impact deliverables. The first workshop will produce a new synthetic database of belowground plant traits that will be published as an open-access data paper. The second workshop will use the database to test a new framework grounded in evolutionary and ecological first principles to explain variation in the three dimensions of belowground biodiversity. The third workshop will merge the new trait database with sPlot to test the global environmental drivers of belowground plant traits and species distributions.

In person participants: tba

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