• KiLi Sub Project 5:
  Plant functional traits translated into vegetation dynamics - Responses to   environmental factors and effects on ecosystem functions of the Kilimanjaro   region

From 03/2010 to 07/2016

Project leader:  Michael Kleyer, Andreas Huth
PhD student:  David Schellenberger Costa, Rico Fischer
Other participating individuals:   Pius Zebhe Yanda

The main assumption of SP5 is that plant responses to changes of climate and land use and plant effects on ecosystem functioning depend on their functional traits rather than on species taxonomic identity. In contrast to the first phase, where our focus was on the intercommunity functional variation, we will now investigate functional diversity within communities and relate plant organ stoichiometry (carbon and nutrient contents and ratios) to environmental conditions, particularly disturbance, and to herbivory. Field results and trait data will be used to improve the model FORMIND-KILI, to explore how disturbance modifies forest community composition, structure, and productivity as a function of disturbance type, intensity and frequency. Furthermore, simulated successions of functional groups will be translated into dynamics of carbon balances, using species stoichiometry upscaled to stands. To this end, lidar remote sensing will be used to estimate local forest biomass for the different forest types at the Kilimanjaro region.

Forest disturbances reflect the people´s dependency on forest products and services for their livelihood. Therefore, we plan also to collect detailed information on the degree of forest use by local communities settling in the Mt. Kilimanjaro region, based on interviews and observations.