Canadian Forest Service Publications

From seed size to ecosystem health: the plant trait approach. 2012. Aubin, I. Natural Resources Canada. Canadian Forest Service. Great Lakes Forestry Centre. Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. Frontline Express 57. 2p.

Year: 2012

Issued by: Great Lakes Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 33366

Language: English

Series: Frontline Express (GLFC - Sault Ste. Marie)

Availability: PDF (download)

Mark record


Measuring and understanding ecosystem response to disturbance is a good determinant of forest health and sustainability. A new, innovative way to assess ecosystem response to human-induced changes is to use the functional trait approach, which classifies vegetation according to the plant characteristics that matter for ecosystem function and processes, such as seed size and life cycle. This method, an alternative to taxonomic classification, allows for comparisons between ecosystems even if they do not share the same species. Such comparisons can be useful in improving our understanding of ecosystem processes and response to disturbances such as logging, biomass removal and forecasting the effects of invasive species, at both the national and international level. This approach also has potential to be useful in land restoration projects, monitoring ecosystem response to climate change and measuring losses in biodiversity. Canada is currently one of nine countries that have contributed data to an international analysis of global ecosystem response to land use intensification. Overall trends indicate a reduction in plant community functional diversity with increased land-use intensity. This international sharing and analysis of data allows researchers to search for global patterns.