Forum für Wissenschaft, Industrie und Wirtschaft

Hauptsponsoren:     3M 
Datenbankrecherche:

 

Marsh plants actively engineer their landscape

14.02.2013
Marsh plants, far from being passive wallflowers, are "secret gardeners" that actively engineer their landscape to increase their species' odds of survival, says a team of scientists from Duke University and the University of Padova in Italy.

Scientists have long believed that the distribution of plants within a marsh is a passive adaption in which species grow at different elevations because that's where conditions like soil aeration and salinity best meet their needs.

But this team found intertidal marsh plants in Italy's famed Venetian lagoon were able to subtly tune, or adjust, their elevations by producing different amounts of organic soil, and trapping and accumulating different amounts of inorganic sediments as part of a complex interplay with the environment.

"Our study identifies the visible signature of a two-way feedback occurring between the vegetation and the landscape," said Marco Marani, professor of ecohydrology at Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment and Pratt School of Engineering. "Each species builds up the elevation of its substrate to within a favorable range for its survival, much the way corals in the animal kingdom do."

The finding may help scientists better predict marsh ecosystems' resilience to climatic changes such as sea level rise.

"Obviously, this is not a conscious choice on the part of the plants," Marani said. "It's a natural mechanism -- how marshes work. We just didn't understand it in such detail until now."

The study appears this week in the early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The team used numerical modeling to visualize the dynamic interactions of marsh ecosystems over time, and tested the models against detailed topographical surveys of elevations and distributions of plant species in the Venetian lagoon.

"We've been studying this same marsh for 15 years and, as in similar studies around the world, we were using GPS technology with an accuracy of plus or minus one centimeter in elevation," Marani explained. For the new study, they used a more precise surveying instrument, an electronic theodolite, which measure elevations accurately to within less than one millimeter. "It allowed us to observe differences so subtle that they went unnoticed before," he said.

The differences in substrate-building capabilities between species are often minute, but they allow each species to stabilize the soil within different stable states, or layers, in the marsh. Some species prefer elevations at or below mean sea level; others prefer higher elevations that are less often inundated.

"Interestingly, our models and surveys show that plants make trade-offs when colonizing within their preferential ranges," Marani said. "Entire sections of a species' vegetation patch often are located above the elevation needed for its maximum biomass productivity." This gives it a bit of margin to compensate for external fluctuations, such as the rates of relative sea level rise or sediment availability.

"Essentially," he said, "the species hedges its bet by trading maximum productivity for greater long-term stability."

Scientists have long known that biodiversity plays an important role in a marsh ecosystem's long-term health and survival, "but this paper provides a clear causal link suggesting how and why," he said. "The take-home message is that the more species you have colonizing different levels within a marsh, the more resilient to abrupt change the marsh as a whole will be."

He said that marshes in which an invasive species, such as cordgrass, has pushed out other species will be less resilient to climatic changes.

Marani's co-authors on the new study are Cristina Da Lio and Andrea D'Alpaos of the University of Padova, Italy.

CITATION: "Vegetation engineers marsh morphology through multiple competing stable states," Marco Marani, Cristina Da Lio and Andrea D'Alpaos. Published week of Feb. 11, 2013 in the early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI - 10.1073/pnas.1218327110

Tim Lucas | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.duke.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht New approach for environmental test on livestock drugs
27.07.2016 | Universität Zürich

nachricht Managing an endangered river across the US-Mexico border
18.07.2016 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Mikroskopieren mit einzelnen Ionen

Neuartiges Ionenmikroskop nutzt einzelne Ionen, um Abbildungen mit einer Auflösung im Nanometerbereich zu erzeugen

Wissenschaftler um Georg Jacob von der Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz haben ein Ionenmikroskop entwickelt, das nur mit exakt einem Ion pro Bildpixel...

Im Focus: Streamlining accelerated computing for industry

PyFR code combines high accuracy with flexibility to resolve unsteady turbulence problems

Scientists and engineers striving to create the next machine-age marvel--whether it be a more aerodynamic rocket, a faster race car, or a higher-efficiency jet...

Im Focus: Neues DFKI-Projekt SELFIE schlägt innovativen Weg in der Verifikation cyber-physischer Systeme ein

Vor der Markteinführung müssen neue Computersysteme auf ihre Korrektheit überprüft werden. Jedoch ist eine vollständige Verifikation aufgrund der Komplexität heutiger Rechner aus Zeitgründen oft nicht möglich. Im nun gestarteten Projekt SELFIE verfolgt der Forschungsbereich Cyber-Physical Systems des Deutschen Forschungszentrums für Künstliche Intelligenz (DFKI) unter Leitung von Prof. Dr. Rolf Drechsler einen grundlegend neuen Ansatz, der es Systemen ermöglicht, sich nach der Produktion und Auslieferung selbst zu verifizieren. Das Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF) unterstützt das Vorhaben über drei Jahre mit einer Fördersumme von 1,4 Millionen Euro.

In den letzten Jahrzehnten wurden enorme Fortschritte in der Computertechnik erzielt. Ergebnis dieser Entwicklung sind eingebettete und cyber-physische...

Im Focus: „Künstliches Atom“ in Graphen-Schicht

Elektronen offenbaren ihre Quanteneigenschaften, wenn man sie in engen Bereichen gefangen hält. Ein Forschungsteam mit TU Wien-Beteiligung baut Elektronen-Gefängnisse in Graphen.

Wenn man Elektronen in einem engen Gefängnis einsperrt, dann benehmen sie sich ganz anders als im freien Raum. Ähnlich wie die Elektronen in einem Atom können...

Im Focus: X-ray optics on a chip

Waveguides are widely used for filtering, confining, guiding, coupling or splitting beams of visible light. However, creating waveguides that could do the same for X-rays has posed tremendous challenges in fabrication, so they are still only in an early stage of development.

In the latest issue of Acta Crystallographica Section A: Foundations and Advances , Sarah Hoffmann-Urlaub and Tim Salditt report the fabrication and testing of...

Alle Focus-News des Innovations-reports >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

IHR
JOB & KARRIERE
SERVICE
im innovations-report
in Kooperation mit academics
Veranstaltungen

Neue Ideen für die Schifffahrt

24.08.2016 | Veranstaltungen

E-Health, E-Hygiene, IT-Management und IT-Sicherheit: Trends und Chancen für Kliniken und Praxen

24.08.2016 | Veranstaltungen

HTW Berlin richtet im September die 30. EnviroInfo aus

23.08.2016 | Veranstaltungen

 
B2B-VideoLinks
Weitere VideoLinks >>>
Aktuelle Beiträge

Neue Ideen für die Schifffahrt

24.08.2016 | Veranstaltungsnachrichten

Mikroskopieren mit einzelnen Ionen

24.08.2016 | Informationstechnologie

E-Health, E-Hygiene, IT-Management und IT-Sicherheit: Trends und Chancen für Kliniken und Praxen

24.08.2016 | Veranstaltungsnachrichten