One of the first Grantham Scholars publishes ‘The global distribution of grass functional traits within grassy biomes’ in the Journal of Biogeography.
Emma Jardine was a Project Sunshine PhD student in the Grantham Centre from 2013-2017. After research positions at the Universities of Oxford and Jena, Emma is now a policy advisor in DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs).
Biodiversity describes how species differ from each other. These species differences are important because they influence the properties of ecosystems and how they respond to climate change.
Although we’ve named lots of plant species across many ecosystems, our knowledge is incomplete about how their biology varies globally. Diversity in plant growth rates is especially important, and can be predicted from leaf characteristics.
Emma Jardine mapped these leaf characteristics across the world’s savannas by working in the herbarium at Kew Botanic Gardens, a plant museum housing 7 million specimens. She found that climate and soil type explain some of the variation in leaf characteristics across the world, but most variation occurs within each ecosystem.
This work shows that species diversity in the leaves within each savanna ecosystem is more important than variation among different regions. And this is important for modellers interested in how climate change will impact the world’s ecosystems.
Thanks to Professor Colin Osborne for a synopsis of this paper.