center for synthesis
and analysis of biodiversity

A centre created and developed by the FRB
A global assessment of plant facilitation effects on diversity, and subsequent feedback effects on regional species pools in two major ecosystem types

 Richard Michalet - Université de Bordeaux (France)

12 participants: Fabien Anthelme - IRD Montpellier (France / Bolivia) ; Robin W. Brooker - The James Hutton Instute (Aberdeen, UK) ; Brad J. Butterfield - Northern Arizona University (Flagstaff, USA) ; Ragan M. Callaway - University of Montana (Switzerland) ; Lohengrin A. Cavieres - Universidad de Conception (Conception, Chile) ; Zaal Kikvidze - Ilia State University (Missoula, USA) ; Peter Le Roux - University of Pretoria (South-Africa) ; Christopher J. Lortie - York University (Toronto, Canada) ; Seth Munson - US Geol. Survey (Flagstaff USA) ; Robin Pakeman - The James Hutton Institute (Aberdeen, UK) ; Francisco I. Pugnaire - EEZA-CSIC Almeria (Almeria, Spain) ; Christian Schöb - University of Zurich (Zurich, Switzerland)

The project brings together experts in bioclimatology, biogeography, plant communities, competition, conservation ecology, community ecology, functional ecology, facilitation, biotic interactions and functional traits.


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Facilitation is widespread in stressful environments such as alpine and arid systems. Both system types are diversity hotspots and under high risk of species loss as climate changes. Pioneering studies in the Sonoran Desert (USA) and alpine systems around the world have shown that facilitation increases diversity in both system types. One recent study also demonstrated that facilitation can increase the positive effect of Regional Species Richness (RSR) on Local Species Richness (LSR). However, the potential feedbacks of these positive effects for RSR have rarely been examined, despite their crucial importance for understanding diversity hotspots. For both arid and alpine systems, we propose utilizing very large data bases on plant community composition and functional traits from 14 countries to assess: (i) the general role of facilitation in the effects of RSR on LSR, exploring LSR/RSR relationships in communities by contrasting patterns with and without facilitation; (ii) facilitation’s feedback effects on RSR, by comparing species pools from regions with varying levels of facilitation; (iii) the contribution of plant traits to the strength of the facilitative effects. Our working group includes 14 scientists from 9 countries; all with established past collaboration on international projects related to facilitation and publications in high-ranked journals.

Alpine ecosystems, arid ecosystems, competition, facilitation, local species richness, LSR/RSR relationships, plant communities, plant functional traits, regional species pools