Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Most Plant Species Important in Various and Varying Ecosystems

12.08.2011
From the kinds that people sneeze at, to the kinds that have prickly seeds that stick to pant legs, there are many different types of plants in grasslands around the world.

According to a new analysis of plants in grassland ecosystems around the world, it turns out that most of those plant species are important.

Brian Wilsey, associate professor, and Stanley Harpole, assistant professor, both in Iowa State University’s Department of Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology, are authors of a study on plant diversity published in today’s issue of the journal Nature. The study’s lead author, Forest Isbell, is a former graduate student of Wilsey who now works at McGill University, Canada.

Their findings show that most species promoted ecosystem functioning in at least some years, sites and environmental conditions. In all, 84 percent of the grassland species are important to the ecosystem at some point.

Prior to this multi-year, multi-context research, Wilsey said that the argument for diversity was more difficult.

“In any single context, only about 27 percent of plant species were seen as important,” he said.

Since previous research had shown that such a small number of plant species were important to ecosystem processes, there was less reason to be concerned if grasslands lost different species and diversity lessened, according to Wilsey.

Now, the value of diversity is very apparent.

The species needed to provide one function during multiple years were not the same as those needed to provide multiple functions within one year, the report said.

“If you look at any one year at one site, you might say that species A or species B are really important,” said Wilsey.

“But what we found was that if you run the analysis over several years, sites or environmental-change contexts, many different species become important. This study really brought everything together.”

Isbell and other authors looked at data from 17 grassland studies around the world, including two done in Iowa’s Loess Hills at the Western Research Farm and another done in Texas by Wilsey’s group.

“Under multiple contexts, many different plant species become really important,” Wilsey added. “For instance, certain plant species are important on east-facing slopes and others are important on west-facing slopes. Some plant species are important on grazing lands because they help grasslands recover quickly. Some plants are vital for nitrogen uptake, which is important because it keeps nitrogen out of water bodies.”

This study may have further value as researchers look to the future.

As climates change, Wilsey said, some plants may become more important because levels of precipitation and atmospheric CO2 change.

“The results suggest that many more species are needed than previously thought for maintaining ecosystem services in a changing world,” he added. “So this study suggests that it is crucial to keep as much diversity as we can.”

Brian Wilsey, Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology, 515-294-0232, bwilsey@iastate.edu

Brian Wilsey | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.iastate.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Bioinvasion on the rise
15.02.2017 | Universität Konstanz

nachricht Litter Levels in the Depths of the Arctic are On the Rise
10.02.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

New risk factors for anxiety disorders

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

MWC 2017: 5G Capital Berlin

24.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>