Dimensions US-China: Collaborative Research: Phylogenetic Functional and Genetic Diversity and Ecosystem Functions in a Fragmented Landscape

Project: Research project

Project Details


Dimensions US-China: Collaborative Research: Phylogenetic, Functional, and Genetic Diversity and Ecosystem Functions in a Fragmented Landscape PIs: Lin Jiang (GIT), Jianguo Wu (ASU), and Steve Schmidt (U Colorado) Chinese PIs: M.J. Yu (ZU), J.B. Lu (HNU), X.Y. Chen (ECNU), and Z.H. Xu (ZAFU) Intellectual merit: Existing biodiversity research has focused mainly on species diversity, but a deeper understanding of mechanisms underlying community assembly and ecosystem functioning requires the consideration of multiple biodiversity dimensions. Also, studies of the causes of biodiversity have largely been decoupled from those of consequences of biodiversity. As a result, we still know little about how the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning (BEF) operates in natural ecosystems, especially, undergoing succession. Thus, this proposal seeks funding to investigate the multiple dimensions of biodiversity (phylogenetic, functional, and genetic diversity) and their interactions in relation to ecosystem functions on islands in the Thousand-Island Lake (TIL) of China the lake with the most land-bridge islands in the world (about 1,100 islands). TIL, a man-made lake created in 1959 after a large dam construction, offers highly replicated natural insular ecosystems, with smaller islands being flooded more frequently than larger ones, resulting in a succession series. Here we propose a simple conceptual framework that marries succession, which often drives changes in biodiversity, with BEF relations. Following this framework we will examine how the multiple dimensions of biodiversity are related to each other and how they influence BEF patterns in natural ecosystems of different successional stages. Our proposed research aims to answer four research questions: 1) Do plant communities on the TIL islands represent a chronosequence, with larger islands harboring later successional communities? 2) How do phylogenetic, functional, and genetic diversity relate to each other and change with island area? 3) Do islands with different areas differ in above- and below-ground ecosystem functions? 4) How do the multiple dimensions of biodiversity relate to ecosystem functioning on the TIL islands? We will test this framework with woody plant, insect, and soil bacterial assemblages. Field surveys will be used to answer our first three questions. Additional field manipulative experiments will be conducted to address the question on BEF relations, providing a unique opportunity to compare BEF patterns in synthetic and natural communities in the same environmental setting. Broader impacts: This project can serve as a long-term platform for collaborations between US and Chinese scientists and students who work on biodiversity, BEF, and habitat fragmentation. Results of this project will be disseminated through publications in peer-reviewed journals, conference presentations, and teaching/training activities. The project will provide high-quality research opportunities for young scientists and students through both hands-on research and workshops organized by the PIs and collaborators. It will emphasize the involvement of underrepresented minorities via existing outreach programs at the PIs home institutions. Genuine efforts will be made to communicate research findings to natural resource managers and decision makers in the region through various media. In addition, the PIs will work with local managers and tourist groups on the TIL islands to promote public education of biodiversity. Integration: This project integrates the phylogenetic, functional, and genetic dimensions of biodiversity, mainly, in three ways. First, it identifies similarities and differences in the responses of the three biodiversity dimensions to changes in habitat area and other landscape variables. Second, it combines observations and experiments to understand the functional consequences of the three biodiversity dimensions. Both elements of the project emphasize the integration across organizational levels from genes to species, populations and communities/ecosystems. Third, the project links biodiversity research with management practices through the PIs already established network involving academics and local decision makers.
Effective start/end date1/1/148/31/19


  • NSF: Directorate for Biological Sciences (BIO): $576,675.00


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