Course: Functional approach in vegetation science

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Course title Functional approach in vegetation science
Course code EKO/FV
Organizational form of instruction Lecture
Level of course Bachelor
Year of study not specified
Semester Summer
Number of ECTS credits 4
Language of instruction Czech
Status of course Optional
Form of instruction Face-to-face
Work placements This is not an internship
Recommended optional programme components None
  • Mládek Jan, Mgr. Ph.D.
  • Mládková Pavla, Mgr.
Course content
Lectures 1-2. Structure and dynamics of plant communities in space and time, conception of plant functional group 3-4. Overview of plant functional traits and their measurements, working with databases 5-6. Calculation of community-weighted means and functional diversity indices 7. Student's presentations of critical analyses of published studies 8-9. Statistical analyses of functional vegetation properties in datasets with random factors 10-11. Response of plant functional traits on environmental factors: case studies 12-13. Effect of community-weighted means of traits and functional diversity indices on ecosystem properties and ecosystem services

Learning activities and teaching methods
Monologic Lecture(Interpretation, Training), Dialogic Lecture (Discussion, Dialog, Brainstorming), Work with Text (with Book, Textbook), Demonstration
  • Preparation for the Course Credit - 5 hours per semester
  • Homework for Teaching - 1 hour per semester
  • Preparation for the Exam - 10 hours per semester
  • Semestral Work - 3 hours per semester
Learning outcomes
Aim of the course is to present modern methods used in functional vegetation ecology and elucidate their importance for analysis of ecological processes and structure of the ecosystems. Functional analysis is indispensable for comparison of vegetation change after experimental treatments in distinct floristic areas but also essential for comprehension of existence and spatial-temporal dynamics of plant communities. During lectures the plant morphological, physiological and phenological characteristics will be presented which response to change in the environmental factors (response traits) as well as the characteristics affecting ecosystem functioning (effect traits). Attention will be devoted to the plant trait measurements following standard protocols and also to the extraction of trait values from freely accessible databases (BIOLFLOR, LEDA). Students will learn which vegetation properties are driven by trait values of dominant species and which by functional diversity of traits. Analyses of structure and dynamics of plant communities will be demonstrated on data from semi-natural grasslands in Central Europe.
- knowledge of plant sampling and measurement of plant traits - skill of handling trait values from freely accessible databases - calculation of community-weighted means of plant traits - calculation of functional diversity indices - basic knowledge of statistical analyses of data sets including random factors - qualification for evaluation of management experiments, landscape vegetation surveys
- willingness of generating and testing ecological hypothesis - general overview about plant morphology, physiology and ecology - knowledge of handling data in spreadsheet (MS Excel) - knowledge of basic statistical techniques and data handling in statistical software (e.g. Statistica) - own laptop
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Assessment methods and criteria
Oral exam, Written exam, Seminar Work

- active participiation in discussion during lectures - 2 points - critical analysis of published study and its presentation in course - 3 points - writing of seminar work - 5 points
Recommended literature
  • Cornelissen JHC et al (2003). A handbook of protocols for standardised and easy measurement of plant functional traits worldwide. Australian Journal of Botany 51: 335-380..
  • Diaz S et al (2007). Incorporating plant functional diversity effects in ecosystem service assessments. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 104: 20684-20689..
  • Mason NWH et al (2005). Functional richness, functional evenness and functional divergence: the primary components of functional diversity. Oikos 111: 112-118..
  • Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2005). Ecosystems and Human Well-Being: Biodiversity Synthesis. World Resources Institute, Washington..
  • Rychnovská M (1993). Structure and functioning of seminatural meadows. Elsevier Science, Amsterdam..

Study plans that include the course
Faculty Study plan (Version) Branch of study Category Recommended year of study Recommended semester
Faculty of Science Ecology and Environmental Protection (1) Ecology and environmental protection - Summer