Diversity strikes back: Does functional diversity enhance resilience in vegetated benthic habitats?

  • Salo, Tiina (CoPI)
  • Gustafsson, Camilla, University of Helsinki (CoPI)
  • Kauppi, Laura (CoPI)

Project Details


Diverse communities are hypothesized to be able to maintain functioning during
environmental disturbance because of species redundancy where more resistant species can step up and continuously maintain functioning when more sensitive species are not able and are lost to the community and ecosystem. Despite increasing numbers of terrestrial studies on plant functional traits and ecosystem processes, analogous studies on seagrasses and other aquatic plants are very few. To bridge this knowledge gap, a functional group approach on stress responses in submerged aquatic vegetation is needed. The main aim of this project is to explore how the functional diversity of aquatic plants affects the resilience of benthic vegetated habitats. Research questions relate to for example, how the trait assemblage in seagrass communities change during and after a disturbance and which traits are key in a recovering community. The questions are addressed in a long-term field experiment conducted underwater that was initiated during summer 2017. This project assesses the stability of benthic vegetated habitats by determining 1) how functional plant traits in a community evolve during disturbance, 2) how different traits contribute to community resilience and 3) whether trait diversity in habitat-forming communities affect higher trophic levels.
Effective start/end date03/07/1707/06/22