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Linking plant functional diversity to ecosystem multifunctionality in arid systems worldwilde

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - DRYFUN (Linking plant functional diversity to ecosystem multifunctionality in arid systems worldwilde)

Reporting period: 2015-10-01 to 2017-09-30

The relationship between plant functional diversity and ecosystem functioning has been hotly debated, and previous research has shown direct feedbacks effects of functional community structure on ecosystem processes. However, previous studies have not considered indirect effects via changes in biotic interactions, and this is an emerging and crucial challenge for community and ecosystem ecologists. The DRYFUN project aims to assess the ultimate effects of biotic interactions on ecosystem processes of global drylands, by coupling a multi-trait approach with an observational database from 123 sites distributed among all continents except Antarctica. Its main objectives are to: (i) test the importance of abiotic and biotic processes for community structure in global drylands, (ii) assess the importance of within- and between-species trait variability for functional diversity, (iii) assess both the direct and indirect impact of dryland functional diversity on ecosystem multifunctionality (i.e. the provision of several ecosystem processes simultaneously; multifunctionality hereafter) at multiple spatial scales and (iv) explore the importance of taxonomic, functional and phylogenetic diversities on multifunctionality. The DRYFUN project is a unique opportunity to test the universal impact of functional diversity on dryland ecosystem functioning, and to provide data for establishing relevant management and restoration strategies for drylands.

My results highlight the importance of plant diversity for the functioning of global drylands. This basic result can have important implication in a context of global environmental change for the human being. My results premise the ability of plant diversity to maintain a high level of ecosystem functioning (i.e. to optimize the overall functioning) of ecosystems highly threatened by desertification. Further, these results can be used to assess the functional consequences of biodiversity loss on dryland ecosystems, to pilot diversity prioritization related to targeted ecosystem functions, and to guide management efforts aimed at maintaining key ecosystem service linked to productivity and soil fertility.
"The applicant has successfully performed/provided the following Milestones and deliverables:

1) Following the working plan (Milestone 1), the applicant has successfully established the detailed and standardized protocol of trait measurements. The protocol of the DRYFUN project has been directly connected to the BIODESERT consortium (ERC Confirmatory Grant led by FT Maestre), and being one of the main task of the BIODESERT. The applicant is part of the steering and publication committees. The protocol has been sent to research groups of the 29 countries involved in the BIODESERT project.

2) The applicant assessed the importance of climate and soil conditions on the functional diversity in drylands. This work fulfills the objective (i) of the DRYFUN project (Milestone 7). The work has been accepted in Journal of Ecology (IF: 5.52).

3) The applicant takes part of a project to assess the effect of indirect interactions on plant functional diversity in global drylands. This work will fulfill the objective (i) of the DRYFUN project (Milestone 7). The work has been submitted to Journal of Ecology (IF: 5.52).

4) The applicant has used the existing data of functional diversity from the BIOCOM project. He assessed the importance of within-species functional diversity in drylands, and its response to abiotic processes. This work fulfills the objective (ii) of the DRYFUN project (Milestone 8). The work has been accepted in Journal of Ecology (IF: 5.52).

5) The applicant assessed the effect of functional diversity on multiple ecosystem functions in global drylands. This work fulfills the objective (iii) of the DRYFUN project (Milestone 10). The work has been accepted in Nature Ecology and Evolution (part of the Nature group).

6) The applicant was part of a project to assess the effect of plant functional and soil fungal diversities on the fertility of global drylands. This work fulfills the objective (iii) of the DRYFUN project (Milestone 10). The work has been accepted in Journal of Ecology (IF: 5.52).

7) The applicant assessed the effect of ecological and biogeograpical factors on the phylogenetic structure of plant communities in the arid Trans-Himalayas. This work fulfills the objective (iv) of the DRYFUN project (Milestone 11). The work has just been accepted in Perspective in Plant Ecology Evolution and Systematics (IF: 3.12).

8) The applicant is now assessing the effect taxonomic, functional and phylogenetic diversities on ecosystem functioning in global drylands. This work is ongoing and will fulfill the objective (iv) of the DRYFUN project (Milestone 11). The work will be submitted to PNAS.

9) The applicant also took part of two beside-projects. The first project aimed at providing guidelines in the calculation and use of trait data for accurately measuring the functional diversity of multiple organisms. The second project aimed at testing the processes involved in the assembly of grasslands by evaluating the niche occupancy through the use of plant functional traits. These two projects have been accepted in PlosOne (IF: 3.06) and Journal of Ecology (IF: 5.52).

10) The applicant joined 3 international congresses. He joined the Ecosummit congress in 2016 where he was invited to chair the session ""dryland ecology"", the SFE congress in 2016, and the MEDECOS meeting in 2017. These works fulfill the Milestones 5 and 9.

11) The applicant provided disseminations: a website that will serve for the ongoing new trait dataset of global drylands, press release on the public websites of the INRA and of the CNRS. All data he used are released in the public repository Figshare.
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The data that will be gathered from the standardized protocol will provide important insights on the role of functional diversity for ecosystem multifucntionality in global drylands, and will improve the predictability of the consequences of global environmental change on the ecosystem structure and functioning. Ongoing and recently published results of objectives (ii) and (iii) are particularly relevant for incorporating functional diversity into management recommendations, notably by providing goals and guidelines for the development of a quantitative and predictive ecology. The results from objective (iii) can be 1) used trait-based restoration ecology and conservation aiming to mitigate the effect global changes drivers on multifunctionality, and 2) offer a way to include the effect of biodiversity and their underlying mechanisms on CNP cycles in global vegetation models.
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