NCEAS Project 9520

The response of ecological communities to nutrient enrichment: Utilizing meta-analysis and structural equation modeling to disentangle the influences of functional traits and environmental context

  • Elsa E. Cleland

ActivityDatesFurther Information
Postdoctoral Fellow1st August 2005—30th June 2008Participant List  
Graduate Student1st April—30th June 2006Participant List  

Ecologists have been fascinated by the relationship between plant species diversity and ecosystem productivity for many years. It is becoming increasingly important to understand this relationship as anthropogenic environmental changes such as nitrogen deposition fundamentally alter natural systems. At local scales, experimental research shows that species diversity tends to decline as resource availability increases. To date, diversity responses to nutrient enrichment have been quantified almost entirely by changes in taxonomic richness. Thus, we know little about the characteristics ¿ or functional traits ¿ of those species which decline. This research will seek to determine whether plant functional traits can predict shifts in species composition, species richness, and productivity in response to nutrient enrichment. This focus on functional traits will facilitate comparison across ecosystem types, and generalization regarding species losses and their consequences in response to environmental change.

TypeProducts of NCEAS Research
Data Set Cleland, Elsa E.; Suding, Katharine N.; Collins, Scott L.; Clark, Christopher M.; Fargione, Joseph E.; Gough, Laura; Gross, Katherine L.; Pennings, Steven C.; Milchunas, Daniel; Cox, Stephen B.; Grace, James B. 2006. Synthesis of nitrogen fertilization experiments in North America - plant species relative abundance. (Online version)
Journal Article Collins, Scott L.; Suding, Katharine N.; Cleland, Elsa E.; Batty, Michael; Pennings, Steven C.; Gross, Katherine L.; Grace, James B.; Gough, Laura; Fargione, Joseph E.; Clark, Christopher M. 2008. Rank clocks and plant community dynamics. Ecology. Vol: 89(12). Pages 3534-3541. (Online version)
Journal Article Cox, Stephen B.; Clark, Christopher M.; Cleland, Elsa E.; Suding, Katharine N.; Weiher, Evan; Pennington, Deana D. 2008. Scale-dependent responses of plant biodiversity to nitrogen enrichment. Ecology. Vol: 89(8). Pages 2165-2171.
Journal Article Funk, Jennifer L.; Cleland, Elsa E.; Suding, Katharine N.; Zavaleta, Erika. 2008. Restoration through reassembly: Plant traits and invasion resistance. Trends in Ecology and Evolution. Vol: 23(12). Pages 695-703. (Online version)