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Task 4.3.3. Assessing stability of ecological communities

Task lead: Martin Zobel, University of Tartu, Estonia

We tested the stability of ecological communities by addressing compositional and functional structure of plant communities either in spatially separated dynamic stages of communities, in model systems undergoing climate change, or in permafrost samples of different age. In particular, we tested the community stability with three empirical datasets. The first dataset comprised understory vegetation of mixed coniferous boreonemoral forest in central Estonia (both plants and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi were addressed). The second dataset comprised grassland vegetation in Swiss alps along a large elevation gradient (from 400 m to 3200 m). We recorded different degree of habitat filtering and niche limitation in these systems. The third dataset comprises permafrost samples from different locations, covering approximately the 40,000 year period and analyzed for ancient DNA by A2 team. The analysis of this dataset is still in progress.


  • Gotzenberger L., De Bello F., Brathen K.A., Davison J., Dubuis A., Guisan A., Leps J., Lindborg R., Moora M., Partel M., Pellissier L., Vittoz P., Zobel K. & Zobel M. (2011). Ecological assembly rules in plant communities – approaches, patterns and prospects. Biological Reviews, 87, 111-127.
  • Hiiesalu, I.; Öpik, M.; Metsis, M.; Lilje, L.; Davison, J.; Vasar, M.; Moora, M.; Zobel,M.; Wilson, S.D.; Pärtel, M. (in press)  Plant species richness belowground: higher richness and new patterns revealed by next-generation sequencing. Molecular Ecology doi: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2011.05390.x.
  • Davison J., Opik M., Daniell T.J., Moora M. & Zobel M. (2011). Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal communities in plant roots are not random assemblages. FEMS Microbiology Ecology, 78, 103-115.
  • Dubuis, A., Pottier, J., Rion, V., Pellissier, L., Theurillat, J. P. & Guisan, A. (2011) Predicting spatial patterns of plant species richness: a comparison of direct macroecological and species stacking approaches. Diversity and Distribution (pending manuscript)
  • Pellissier, L., Pradervand, J.-N., Pottier, J., Dubuis, A., Maiorano, L. & Guisan, A. (submitted) Empirical modeling of butterfly assemblages shows more accurate predictions at high altitude and in plant rich grasslands. Ecography.
  • Pottier, J., Dubuis, A., Pellissier, L., Maiorano, L., Rossier, L., Vittoz, P., Randin, C. & Guisan, A. (in review) Prediction accuracy of stacked-species distribution models degrades toward more productive and disturbed habitats at low elevations. Global Ecology and Biogeography
  • Zobel M., Otto R., Laanisto L., Naranjo-Cigala A., Partel M. & Fernandez-Palacios J.M. (2011). The formation of species pools: historical habitat abundance affects current local diversity. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 20, 251-259.


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