Tree species traits

The FunDivEUROPE project

Biodiversity research of the last 15 years could demonstrate that multiple functions and services of an ecosystem are influenced by the number of species within this system. Most of these findings, however, are based on research within grassland systems. So science has to make the next big step and address those ecosystems that control a good portion of the carbon, nutrient and water balances of the earth: the forests. ...

Tree species mixtures influencing forest structure and phenology

In forest ecosystems trees are the dominant element of the vertical and horizontal structure of these ecosystems and they interact to fill the 3-dimensional space from the canopy to the forest floor. A hypothesis that we are testing, is that forests with more species (a greater combination of structural traits) interact to form complex environments and are acting to use the space more efficiently. By doing so, the trees would also maximize their light interception and as a result, fill the space with more biomass. If this is true, it would help to explain why species rich forests are more...

Tree diversity supporting forest adaptation under climate change

Biodiversity may enhance forest functioning and services in several aspects. Our results, however, suggest that the positive role of biodiversity can be a consequence of different mechanisms that are contingent upon environmental conditions and other factors. For example, biodiversity can be relevant in buffering climate change by means of a variety of mechanisms. Uncertainty around future climate conditions is high with respect to precipitation  so it is not easy to know which species or combination of species will perform better in the future. It is important to ensure, in the face...

Photosynthetic responses of different tree species mixtures

Biodiversity regulates several aspects of ecosystem functioning and the delivery of ecosystem services. Many forest ecosystem services, such as timber production and carbon sequestration, are directly related to tree growth and photosynthesis rates. ...

Uncovering the mechanisms behind positive diversity-productivity relationships in forests.

Globally, forests play a critical role in mitigating climate change by removing CO2 from the atmosphere and storing it in wood. The strength of this carbon sync depends on a number of factors, such as climate, availability of nutrients and disturbance. On top of this, it is becoming increasingly apparent that diverse forests tend to be more productive than monocultures. But why? What are the mechanisms that enable diverse forest to outperform ones which are species poor? This is what we aim to understand.  ...

Dead wood and nitrogen stocks: the older, the richer

Dead wood (dead trees, branches, stumps and roots in all stages of decay process) plays an important role in element cycling (carbon, nitrogen, water, etc.) and builds-up forest nutrient stocks. Dead wood is also an essential structural component of forests, providing habitat for large variety of organisms with often highly specialized habitat requirements (e.g. xylobiontic beetles). Organisms inhabiting dead wood cause change in wood quality (its structure, chemical composition and density) preparing substrate for consecutive steps of ecological succession. Speed of this change depends...

The understorey, a forest layer with an underestimated importance for ecosystem functioning

The major forest types in Europe, from the Boreal to the Mediterranean region, all include a variable number of native vascular plant species in the understorey layer (1.3 m height), both herbaceous and woody. In spite of its small stature and biomass this layer can contain 90% or more of the plant species of the forest. The functional role of the understory vegetation has already been shown in previous studies on temperate forests. They can serve as: ...

About the project

The overall scientific goal of FunDivEUROPE is to quantify the effects of forest biodiversity on ecosystem functions and services in major European forest types.

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