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A functional trait analysis of successional pathway dynamics

dc.contributor.advisorMallik, Azim
dc.contributor.authorSt. Martin, Philippe
dc.description.abstractThe study of plant community re-assembly following disturbances in anthropogenically managed landscapes is a necessity in today’s climate. The measurement of plant functional traits is a tool that can be of great help in understanding how individual plants and entire communities respond to shifts in disturbance regimes and environmental characteristics that are directly or indirectly under human influence. In Eastern Newfoundland, two distinct successional pathways may be initiated depending on fire severity. Fires of high severity in Picea mariana-dominated forests will initiate a forest succession; fires of low severity can cause a state shift where an ericaceous heath dominated by Kalmia angustifolia will succeed where a P. mariana-dominated forest once stood. To enhance understanding of community response to varying disturbance regimes, I applied a functional trait analysis to two distinct successional pathways with the aim of (i) assessing the functional diversity (FD) of both pathways, (ii) identifying the causes of the observed FD, and (iii) using the functional traits of both communities to predict future successional pathways. Alpha functional diversity (α-FD) was calculated as functional dispersion (FDis) and beta functional diversity (β-FD) was mean pairwise distance (DPW) and mean distance to nearest neighbour (DNN). Identifying significant drivers of FD in both communities was performed by linking soil characteristics with plant traits via a combine RLQ-fourth corner approach. Finally, prediction of post-fire succession was made possible by constructing a model based on fuzzy logic that incorporated community flammability and regeneration strategy of dominant plants, along with environmental variables.en_US
dc.subjectEricoid mycorrhizaeen_US
dc.subjectFunctional dispersionen_US
dc.subjectFunctional homogenizationen_US
dc.subjectFuzzy logicen_US
dc.subjectSoil nutrientsen_US
dc.titleA functional trait analysis of successional pathway dynamicsen_US
dc.typeDissertationen_US of Philosophyen_US Resources Managementen_US Universityen_US
dc.contributor.committeememberMackereth, Robert
dc.contributor.committeememberMcLaren, Brian

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