Eco-evolutionary dynamics in grasslands during land use change: consequences for plant-microbe interactions and ecosystem function

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Jenalle L. Eck , Tsipe Aavik, Kadri Koorem, Richard D. Bardgett, Marina Semchenko


1. Land use change can cause the loss of plant species and functional diversity, but whether it drives eco-evolutionary changes within plant species is unclear.

2. Semi-natural grasslands are particularly threatened by land use change, including management intensification on productive soils and abandonment on marginal land. As such, they serve as an excellent system for exploring if and how land use change causes evolutionary changes within plant populations and what their wider consequences could be.

3. Here we synthesise what is known about land use impacts at the plant community and ecosystem level, build predictions on potential evolutionary responses and review empirical evidence available to date. We predict that land use intensification and abandonment may cause genetic and functional shifts in grassland plant populations, disrupt plant-microbial associations and create eco-evolutionary feedbacks that impact wider ecosystem processes. Evolutionary responses to land use may also undermine the adaptive potential of plant species to future climate change.

4. Synthesis: This review highlights the lack of studies on eco-evolutionary dynamics in ecosystems under land use change, despite their potential importance for the functioning and stability of plant and soil communities and the ecosystem processes that they maintain.



Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Life Sciences



Published: 2024-06-01 00:46


CC-BY Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International

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