Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

A meta-analysis of wetland plant traits in relation to the strategies of wetland plants and the impacts on ecosystem functioning

What are trait-trait relationships in wetlands?
To what extent the so-called leaf economics traits deviate from terrestrial ecosystems?
How traits specific to wetland plant relate to plant strategies?
What’s the relationship between wetland plant traits to the ecosystem functioning (e.g. productivity, methane emissions)

2016  -   2020
Yingji Pan
Chinese Scholarship Council
Leiden University-CSE joint scholarship programme.

Short abstract

Trait-based ecology is an important approach for understanding  or predicting the causes and consequences of biotic or abiotic species interactions. This PhD project aims at understanding the wetland plant strategies and the relationship between wetland plants and wetland ecosystem functioning through a trait-based method. The expected results will aid in identifying what level of functional diversity is needed to support the ecosystem services of wetland and maintain the critical processes of wetland ecosystems.

Project description

Plant functional traits relate to the responses of plants to environmental factors, indicating plants’ adaptation and eco-evolutionary selection mechanisms as well as their impact on ecosystem functions. Over the past decades, trait-based approaches and functional diversity gained much attention.  However, these studies primarily focused on purely terrestrial ecosystems but not on wetland ecosystems.

Considering the unique and valuable ecosystem services provided by wetlands, understanding the selection of traits and functional diversity in wetland ecosystems and its relationship to ecosystem functioning hence urgently needed. This PhD project builds upon a unique so far unpublished wetland trait database which currently contains compiled traits information for more than 20 wetland plant traits from more than 200 publications. The research will give an insight in wetland plant functional diversity in relation to two perspectives: (a) The relationship between functional traits and the adaptation and competition strategies of wetland plant species. (b) Identify the important functional traits that sustain the key ecosystem functioning of wetlands.

Douma, J. C., Bardin, V., Bartholomeus, R. P., Bodegom, P. M. (2012). Quantifying the functional responses of vegetation to drought and oxygen stress in temperate ecosystems. Functional Ecology, 26(6), 1355-1365.