ECOPAR Comparative ecology of organisms, communities and ecosystems

Comparative ecology of organisms, communities and ecosystems

The main interests of the ECOPAR group concern the analysis of functional diversity in plant communities and its role for ecosystem functioning. We follow a comparative approach, based on functional traits. Conceptual, methodological and experimental approaches are combined to understand how plant traits translate into organismal performance and how this influences processes at higher levels of organization, from communities to ecosystems. Our research is mainly conducted in the context of anthropogenic changes (mostly land use and climate), with an aim to develop diagnostic and predictive tools of eco- and agro-systems functioning. Research is organized along three main axes:

  • At the level of organisms:
    • Functional significance of above and belowground traits
    • Response of traits to environmental gradients (secondary succession, water and nutrient gradients, grazing, fertilization, temperature…). Quantification of these gradients using continuous variables.
    • Intra and interspecific variation of plant traits.
  • At the level of communities :
    • Functional structure of plant communities : trait distribution and abundance, seasonal and annual variations of traits
    • Assembly rules : relative importance of biotic and abiotic factors
    • Interactions between plant communities and other trophic levels (decomposers and herbivores)
  • At the level of ecosystems :
    • Relationships between the functional structure of plant communities and ecosystem functioning: primary productivity, decomposition, digestibility, carbon and nitrogen cycles
    • Stability of processes in response to environmental variations
    • Linkage between above and belowground compartments

The integration of data (traits, botanical relevés and ecosystem properties) in various national and international databases is one the priority of the team who contributes to the development of ecoinformatics, an emergent discipline at the interface between ecology and informatics.