The interplay between community diversity and functioning is one of the central topics of contemporary ecology. However, diversity is typically seen from two very different perspectives, either as a response to environment or as an effect on ecosystem functions. Our primary aim is to develop approaches that can bridge this gap, taking into account the fact that both perspectives work with underlying assumption of niche differentiation. In the proposed project, we joined together two leading Czech groups working on mechanisms of grassland diversity with sufficient expertise and long-term experiments (some running for 20 years) to perform manipulative experiments and an in-depth analysis of mechanisms by which coexisting plant species divide the niche space. We will combine two types of manipulation, namely manipulating richness directly and indirectly by changing productivity by fertilization. Further, we will examine a number of putative mechanisms accounting for niche differentiation, namely root interactions, growth phenology and interactions with root pathogens.
Lepš Jan prof. RNDr. CSc.