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There's more in the (boreal) forest than just trees: the importance of mosses and dwarf shrubs for ecosystem functioning

Event Type: 
Seminar
Event Date: 
30 May 2018 - 8:00am
Venue: 
ASE 3D Viz Laboratory Room (N2-B1c-16c)
Speaker: 
Paul Kardol
About the speaker: 

Paul Kardol is an ecologist investigating effects of natural and anthropogenic disturbances on terrestrial ecosystems. His research regards linkages between plant communities and soil communities (microbes, nematodes!) and the consequences of plant-soil interactions and feedbacks for ecosystem functioning. He combines field experiments and more detailed greenhouse and lab experiments. He is now working mostly in boreal forests and subarctic tundra, but previously has worked across a variety of different ecosystems in Europa, the USA, and New Zealand/Australia. He did his PhD from at the Netherlands Institute of Ecology /  Wageningen University on the role of  plant-soil feedbacks in secondary succession after land abandonment. He then did a  2-year post-doc at the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Lab on the effects of climate change impacts on old-field ecosystems before moving to the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. He has (co-)authored about 75 peer-reviewed papers (incl. Science and Nature). He is also an associate editor as the Journal of Ecology and at Ecosystems.

About the event: 

Boreal forests play a key role in the global carbon (C) budget, and currently serve as net C sinks, but whether boreal forests will continue serving as C sinks under future environmental conditions or shift to C sources is uncertain. It is therefore important to understand the processes underlying the C balance of boreal forests, and how these processes might be affected by environmental change. In the first part of my seminar, I will focus on the role of food web interactions in the ‘bryosphere’ (i.e., the complex of living and dead moss tissue and associated microorganisms and invertebrates); in boreal forests, feather mosses often form a thick, continuous layer on the forest floor. I will discuss how trophic interactions in the bryosphere drive two key ecosystem processes: nitrogen fixation by moss-associated cyanobacteria and the decomposition of vascular plant litter. In the second part of my seminar, I will shift gears, and focus on the effects of understory species and functional group diversity on soil communities and the processes they drive, and on ecosystem multifunctionality. I will also discuss the effects of species loss for plant community productivity and stability. Here, I will show these effects can differ among contrasting ecosystems, and – importantly – that patterns of long-term effects of species loss emerging from artificially and randomly assembled communities may not be representative for what happens in ‘real’ ecosystems.