Global change, biodiversity, and the terrestrial biosphere: linking plant traits and biogeochemical processes

Peter Reich1
1 Forest Resources, University of Minnesota

Key Note 3 in Plenary Keynotes

15.07.2014, 09:00-09:45

The traits of organisms result from evolutionary and physiological processes, and reflect variation in ecological strategies. They provide a lens through which those ecological strategies, and their consequences, can be compared among taxa that co-occur locally, as well as across climate zones and vegetation types worldwide. For example, all taxa have leaf, stem and root traits that reside somewhere along a continuum from a ‘slow’ to a ‘fast’ return on investment design strategy. Thus, traits influence whole-plant function, and the dynamics, structure, and function of communities and ecosystems, including feedbacks to belowground processes and biogeochemical cycling.  Such links are relevant to both the historical ecological landscape of the past and to the dynamic and rapidly changing world of the 21st century, replete with its changing climate, chemistry and biota.  Using data ranging from local studies to cross-continental observations to ecosystem-scale manipulations of global change factors such as CO2, temperature, rainfall and biodiversity, I provide an overview of the connections across some of these ecological strands.

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last modified 2014-05-15