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A functional explanation of low temperature tree species limits

Objective

The number one question in ecology is why certain organisms occur where they do, and what the traits are which make them successful. This project aims at arriving at a functional explanation of the climatic limits of major European broad leaved tree taxa. It will focus on and explore their temperature-related limits and aims at reviving Europe's traditional strength in physiology based ecology by training a group of young scientists to answer such questions. The project builds upon many years of the PIs experience in mechanism oriented ecology (e.g. synthesis in Körner 2003) and should help trading those rapidly disappearing skills to a next generation of experimental ecologists. The project adopts a three-step approach: (1) Assess the current extreme postions of tree taxa along thermal gradients, using existing data bases and site visits (data mining, biogeography). (2) Associate those patterns with bioclimatic information, both available and newly acquired (climatology). (3) Empirically test hypotheses of causes of growth limitation and stress survival, both in the field and in the laboratory (eco-physiology). The project will account for ecotypic differentiation by using the uppermost (marginal) and central (optimal) positions of taxa and will explore plant establishment as well as adult plant performance. It will use in situ measurements, transplant and common gardens as well as phytotron testing. Genotypic control of phenology, frost hardiness, thermal constraints of growth and reproduction (fitness) will play a central role. The results will, for the first time, offer a mechanistic (rather then correlative) explanation for broad leaf tree species distribution in Europe and thus, will provide a basis for improved parameterization and evaluation of species distribution models in a climate change context.

Field of science

  • /natural sciences/biological sciences/ecology
  • /natural sciences/earth and related environmental sciences/atmospheric sciences/climatology
  • /natural sciences/computer and information sciences/data science/data mining
  • /medical and health sciences/basic medicine/physiology

Call for proposal

ERC-2008-AdG
See other projects for this call

Funding Scheme

ERC-AG - ERC Advanced Grant

Host institution

UNIVERSITAT BASEL
Address
Petersplatz 1
4051 Basel
Switzerland
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 1 249 198
Principal investigator
Christian Körner (Prof.)
Administrative Contact
Kurt Kamber (Dr.)

Beneficiaries (1)

UNIVERSITAT BASEL
Switzerland
EU contribution
€ 1 249 198
Address
Petersplatz 1
4051 Basel
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Principal investigator
Christian Körner (Prof.)
Administrative Contact
Kurt Kamber (Dr.)