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New Paper: Fischer et al. 2016 Plant species richness and functional traits affect community stability after a flood event


Climate change is expected to increase the frequency and magnitude of extreme weather events. It is therefore of major importance to identify the community attributes that confer stability in ecological communities during such events. In June 2013, a flood event affected a plant diversity experiment in Central Europe (Jena, Germany). We assessed the effects of plant species richness, functional diversity, flooding intensity and community means of functional traits on different measures of stability (resistance, resilience and raw biomass changes from pre-flood conditions). Surprisingly, plant species richness reduced community resistance in response to the flood. This was mostly because more diverse communities grew more immediately following the flood. Raw biomass increased over the previous year; this resulted in decreased absolute value measures of resistance. There was no clear response pattern for resilience. We found that functional traits drove these changes in raw biomass: communities with a high proportion of lateseason, short-statured plants with dense, shallow roots and small leaves grew more following the flood. Late-growing species probably avoided the flood, whereas greater root length density might have allowed species to better access soil resources brought from the flood, thus growing more in the aftermath. We conclude that resource inputs following mild floods may favour the importance of traits related to resource acquisition and be less associated with flooding tolerance.


Fischer, F. M., Wright, A. J., Eisenhauer,  N., Ebeling, A., Roscher, C., Wagg, C., Weigelt, A., Weisser, W. W., Pillar, V. D. 2016 Plant species richness and functional traits affect community stability after a flood event. Phil.Trans. R. Soc. B 371: 20150276. http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2015.0276


Felı´cia M. Fischer ()

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