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How do changes in environmental conditions affect stress-tolerant and competitive species in wet grasslands.

Eising, Kasper (2018) How do changes in environmental conditions affect stress-tolerant and competitive species in wet grasslands. Master's Research Project 2, Ecology and Evolution.

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As a result of changing temperature, water availability and nutrient availability plant diversity is declining. In particular wet grassland species suffer from fluctuating precipitation and competition with other plant species that are better adapted to environmental changes. Recent studies are suggesting that survival of species under such circumstances is dependent on the survival strategy that a species utilizes. In this study I test this hypothesis by using a diverse group of wet, mesotrophic and oligotrophic, grassland species. These species are subjected to a period of 2/3 weeks of drought and shade to simulate the environmental changes. Changes in photochemical efficiency, dryweight/freshweight ratio, rootweight/shootweight ratio, leafweight/stemweight ratio, Specific Leaf Area and stomatal density were measured after the treatment. Plants from different survival strategies were compared under each treatment. This study found that none of the plants adjusted physiological characteristics to the imposed environmental changes. Furthermore no expressed plasticity was found in plants despite differences in survival strategy and treatment. Overall it is concluded that plants barely apply plasticity when they reach an optimal state. This implicates that mesotrophic and oligotrophic grassland communities are more vulnerable for environmental changes rather than competition. The absence of plasticity effects in this study increases the importance of genetic diversity of the plant community. Habitat fragmentation is therefore thought to be a primary cause for the loss of biodiversity. Grasslands are indeed highly fragmented in the Lowlands. Creating sustainable oligotrophic grasslands is thus dependent on restoration efforts. Which in turn are dependent to changes in agricultural land use of the surrounding areas.

Item Type: Thesis (Master's Research Project 2)
Supervisor name: Elzenga, J.T.M.
Degree programme: Ecology and Evolution
Thesis type: Master's Research Project 2
Language: English
Date Deposited: 27 Nov 2018
Last Modified: 03 Dec 2018 13:08

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