NKFIH KH 130320 (2018.12.01.-2020.12.31.)
Role of functional plant traits in grassland dynamics and restoration
Project leader: Edina Tóth
The main aim of the project was to examine the ecological processes of grasslands in Central and Eastern Europe and the related rules of community organization and association on a functional trait basis. The studies aimed to analyse the processes of plant propagation, seed bank formation and community resistance and resilience through the study of plant characteristics. Another important goal was to create an open-access plant trait database, which contains local measurement data for the fullest possible range of Hungarian flora species.
As grasslands provide economically important key ecosystem services, such as biological pest control, erosion protection, water retention or the fixing of excess nutrients, their importance is especially high in agro-ecosystems. Factors affecting the spatial and temporal patterns of biodiversity and the possible causes of species’ rarity have long been important aspects of ecological research. Lately, the processes and effects of seed dispersal and seed bank formation, as well as the processes related to the resistance and resilience of the communities, have been getting increasing attention during the conservation and restoration of grassland biodiversity. A significant amount of grasslands in Central and Eastern Europe has been degraded due to the changes in management intensity. To understand the related ecological processes, functional analyses of the rules that govern species assembly and vegetation dynamics are vital. Analyses based on functional diversity are able to provide more direct conclusions about the processes that shape plant communities than analyses based on species composition alone. Besides answering questions in the work packages, building an open access trait database of the Pannonian flora is also an essential part of the research proposal, which would further promote the development of Hungarian functional ecological studies.