Plant Ecology Laboratory
The workgroup is led by Prof. Martin Zobel (martin.zobel [ät] ut.ee).
Research in the Plant Ecology Lab focuses on diversity patterns in biological communities, and on the interactions underlying these patterns. The main questions addressed are: how do communities vary along natural gradients and gradients of human impact? What are the major assembly rules shaping communities; and are they attributable to biotic interactions or environmental heterogeneity? What are the roles of different biotic interactions - including competition, facilitation, herbivory and symbiosis - in structuring communities?
Our research particularly focuses on two groups of organisms: plants and arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi. We address plant and fungal diversity patterns and assembly rules in forest and grassland ecosystems subjected to different management regimes. We are particularly interested in determining the importance of symbiotic interactions between plants and AM fungi as mechanisms underlying diversity patterns. For example, our questions include: does the outcome of plant interactions depend on the presence and species composition of AM fungal communities? Do AM fungi influence patterns of plant diversity? Is AM fungal diversity influenced by the availability and diversity of host plants? Are AM fungal and plant diversity patterns inter-related? How do these interactions relate to plant invasions.
Considered as a whole, the research in Plant ecology lab aims to understand why particular patterns of plant and fungal diversity emerge and what the best ways are of managing them in order to protect biodiversity.
Read Plant Ecology Lab's news and see recent publications from the lab's webpage.