Anthropogenic nutrient enrichment and shifts in herbivore pressure can both lead to dramatic changes in the composition and diversity of terrestrial plant communities. Most of the hypotheses proposed to explain these changes relate to competition for light. We experimentally test the role of competition for light in mediating the effects of fertilization and exclusion of herbivory on diversity using novel methods (illumination by LED-lighting). We also address the extent to which climate change can reinforce or mitigate competition for light, and affect diversity. Our experiment is carried out at Global Change Experimental Facility (GCEF) in Bad Lauchstädt at a research station belonging to Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research.
Project in collaboration with: Dr. Stan Harpole, Dr. Harald Auge, Dr. Yann Hautier
We are working with the following approaches:
- We use seed additions and transplants to assess the roles of seed germination and seedling survival, and adult survival and fitness in mediating the impacts of light under herbivory, nutrients and future climate.
- We use plant functional and physiological traits in different life stages (seeds, seedlings, adult plants) to predict competitive ability for light and changes in plant community composition and diversity under light addition, fertilization, herbivory and future climate.