University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota
College of Biological Sciences

E271 - FAB 1 : Forests and Biodiversity Experiment - High density diversity experiment




The Forest And Biodiversity experiment (FAB) experiment focuses on trees of our region to investigate the maintenance and consequences of biological diversity in soil, food webs, plant communities and ecosystems. Here we seek permission to establish an initial experiment consisting of transplanted seedlings to be conducted from May 2012-May 2013 to determine whether tree seedlings from 21 Cedar Creek species survive in a series of locations. These locations would be candidate sites for a much larger, long-term experiment to be set up in subsequent years. The locations for planting seedlings include five sets of old fields: fields 1/500/503, fields 31-34, fields 526-530/74, field 47, and fields 516/517. In each set of fields, 20-25 seedlings of each of 21 species would be planted in a 36 m2 area that will be treated with roundup and disked prior to planting. FAB will be designed to unravel effects of three forms of biological diversity: species richness (SR), functional diversity (FD), and phylogenetic diversity (PD). We define FD as the representation of multiple traits of leaves, roots, seeds, and the whole organism that are correlated with species positions along gradients of resource supply, growth, and decomposition. PD is the representation of evolutionary lineages measured as the genetic distances between species. While PD and FD are often correlated, convergent evolution and adaptive differentiation can decouple them. When functional traits that drive specific ecosystem functions are not phylogenetically conserved, PD and FD may give contrasting predictions. SR, PD, and FD are not independent, and we posit that PD may help explain SR effects, and FD may help explain both PD and SR effects. A valuable and unique contribution of the FAB design is its explicit ability to test for PD and FD effects when SR is held constant; so direct contrast of PD and FD effects can be made independent of SR. Thus FAB is designed to examine the separate and combined effects of all three components of diversity.

Due to the long lag between planting tree seedlings and determining effects of tree composition and diversity on ecosystem functioning, almost no experiments are available that elucidate the role of biodiversity in the functioning of forest ecosystems (but see Hector et al 2011). The long-term nature of the proposed experiment, our experience with large-scale experiments, and the major insights that FAB is likely to provide make it highly suited to our long-term research at CDR. LTER is the only program that we know of that can support such experiments. In addition to increasing our inference to forested ecosystems, FAB will unravel the interacting effects of three forms of biological diversity: species richness (SR), functional diversity (FD), and phylogenetic diversity (PD). 

(A) Description of Research: Phase 1: In May 2012, we will initiate a seedling survival survey in five locations that are candidates for a much larger study described in Phase 2. In each location, survival will be determined for transplanted seedlings of 21 native tree species that occur commonly at or near Cedar Creek: Populus tremuloides, Populus grandidentata, Populus deltoides, Salix nigra, Salix amygdaloides, Betula papyrifera, Betula alleghaniensis, Quercus alba, Quercus macrocarpa, Quercus rubra, Quercus ellipsoidalis, Acer saccharum, Acer rubrum, Acer negundo, Tilia americana, Pinus strobus, Pinus resinosa, Pinus banksiana, Larix laricina, Thuja occidentalis, Juniperus virginiana. A total of approximately 100 seedlings of each species will be planted in May 2012. In each of the five candidate locations, 20-25 seedlings of each species will be planted in 3m x 3m plots. Species will be randomized within these plots, and individuals will be planted 25 cm apart. After 1 year, we will tally the number of surviving seedlings and remove all plants from the sites. 

(B) Location of Research Locations for Phase 1 are five sets of old fields:

  1. Field 047, the field area adjacent to the cemetery (corner of CR24 and CR76).
  2. NW corner of Cedar Creek: Fields 001, 500, 503
  3. Fields 31-34
  4. Fields 516, 517
  5. Fields 526-530, 074

Depending on the results of Phase 1, 1-3 of the candidate sites will be chosen for implementing Phase 2, described below. Note that we are not requesting permission at this time to complete Phase 2, because our final site selection depends on the results of Phase 1. However, the candidate sites for Phase 1 should not be approved unless it is likely that they would be approved for Phase 2.   


Methods for e271


Datasets for e271: FAB 1 : Forests and Biodiversity Experiment - High density diversity experiment

Dataset IDTitleRange of Years (# years with data)
aere271Initial soil pH2013-2013 (1 year)
aepe271Sapling Census2013-2014 (2 years)
afee271Soil bulk density2013-2013 (1 year)