Funding period: 2016-2018
Species invasions are among the most important threats to the functioning of the Earth’s ecosystems. Invasion biologists have mainly focused so far on the effects that invasive plant species have on native populations and communities. The response of ecosystem functioning to invasion has received considerably less attention. In INPLANT we explore the capability of imaging spectroscopy data to define optically distinguishable functional types (‘optical types’) as a means to quantify the effects of invasive plants on ecosystem functioning. Spectroscopy data allow to characterize the canopy biochemistry, as such allowing a discrimination between subtle physiological differences among plant species, and enable a straightforward link to ecosystem processes. The optical types are expected to outperform, or at least complement, conventional functional trait approaches when predicting changes in ecosystem functioning through plant invasion. The principal idea behind INPLANT is that invasive plant species may have physical-chemical properties that differ from native species. These physical-chemical properties can be directly linked to ecosystem functioning changes following invasions, and they can be largely quantified based on the optical reflectance spectra of the species, which are detectable due to recent developments in remote sensing technology.
Project partners: KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium