Restoring functional diversity in tropical grasslands

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Rafael Oliveira

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Grasslands cover a substantial area in the tropics and contribute to the provisioning of key ecosystem services. Restoration of biodiverse tropical grasslands is complex, and the current success of these projects is low. The reasons why biodiverse grassland restorations fail remains unknown, although it is likely that plant species being targeted lack suitable functional properties to survive and compete in the degraded environments that are being restored. The species composition of surrounding undisturbed grasslands is being used to guide current restorations, however these species may not be successful on degraded land, which tends to have compressed drier soils and altered nutrient composition. Neotropical Grasslands are slow to mature and successful restoration relies on future-proofing suitable ecosystem function against future changes in climate, which is determined by functional trait composition. The latest research from rainforests suggests a focus on plant resource-use strategies, and particularly, hydraulic functional traits are key to determining ecosystem-scale stability and climate resilience in drought-prone areas. In this talk, I will present how we are applying these research techniques (developed by our team in rainforests) to test the importance of functional trait composition to the success of grassland restoration and the provisioning of key ecosystem services in grasslands in central Brazil.

Resource Type:
Audio/Video, Conference Presentation, SER2019

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Society for Ecological Restoration