Restoration Ecologists might not get what they want: Global Change shifts Trade-offs among Ecosystem Functions

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Sebastian Fiedler, José A.F. Monteiro, Kristin B. Hulvey, Rachel J. Standish, Michael P. Perring, Britta Tietjen

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Ecological restoration increasingly aims at improving ecosystem multifunctionality (EMF) and making landscapes resilient to future threats, especially in biodiversity hotspots such as Mediterranean-type ecosystems. Successful realisation of such a strategy requires a fundamental mechanistic understanding of the link between ecosystem plant composition, plant traits and related ecosystem functions and services, as well as how climate change affects these relationships. Based on empirical data from a large-scale restoration project in Western Australia, we developed and validated the spatially explicit simulation model ModEST, which calculates coupled dynamics of nutrients, water and individual plants characterised by traits. We assessed the role of plant diversity and traits on EMF, the provision of six ecosystem functions, as well as tradeoffs and synergies among the functions under current and future climates. We found that EMF cannot fully be achieved because of trade-offs among functions that are attributable to sets of traits that affect functions differently. Our measure of EMF was increased by higher levels of planted species richness under current, but not future climatic conditions. In contrast, single functions were differently impacted by increased plant diversity. In addition, we found that trade-offs and synergies among functions shifted with climate change. Our results imply that restoration ecologists will face a clear challenge to achieve their targets with respect to EMF not only under current conditions, but also in the long-term. However, ModEST allows us to assess which long-term target goals can be achieved given the set of available plant species and site-specific conditions.

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program