On this page, I want to give a brief overview of where my research is heading. For a full list of my publications, visit my Google Scholar-profile, for the blogposts associated with each publication, visit the paper-post page.
Small note: this list would be a whole lot less long if not for the fantastic network of dedicated colleagues, supervisors and co-authors I am a part of, many of them grouped within the MIREN network (Mountain Invasion Research Network). They deserve the biggest possible thank you.
- Mountain roads affect species composition, with higher species richness and a very different community in the roadsides than in the natural vegetation (Lembrechts et al. (2014). PLoS ONE).
- These mountain roads thus have inevitable effects on species ranges, with lowland (native and non-native) species expanding their ranges on average 600 m upward in the roadside, and alpine species 200 m downwards (Lembrechts et al. (2017). Ecography).
Plant invasion in mountain plant communities
- Alpine plant communities in the subarctic are more invasible for non-native species than lowland communities (Lembrechts et al. (2014). PLoS ONE).
- Along the whole elevation gradient, invasion is mostly driven by disturbance, i.e. removal of the vegetation (Lembrechts et al. (2016). PNAS, Lembrechts et al. (2017b). Ecography).
- Due to small-scale variation in biotic interactions and microclimate within such disturbances, size of a vegetation gap and location within the gap do matter for the success of the invaders (Lembrechts et al. (2015) AoB Plants).
- Despite the higher invasibility of alpine areas, the highest elevations are so far relatively free from non-native plants (Alexander et al. (2016). Alpine Botany).
- Nonetheless, in total nearly 200 non-native plant species have been recorded from alpine environments around the world (Alexander et al. (2016). Alpine Botany).
- Surprisingly, most non-natives in alpine environments are warm-adapted species (Alexander et al. (2016). Alpine Botany).
- Even though they like it warm, they perform best in disturbed sites at intermediate elevations. There, it is not yet too cold, but the native vegetation grows too slow to provide much resistance against invasion (Lembrechts et al. (2016). PNAS).
- These warm-adapted species can tactically make use of warm spots in the mountains as stepping stones towards higher elevations, especially with a bit of human help (disturbance, nutrient addition, transportation of seeds (Lembrechts et al. (2017b). Ecography).
- All of this suggest an increasing risk for plant invasion in cold ecosystems in a future that will combine a warming climate with persistent anthropogenic pressure.
- Litter decomposition is driven more by climate than by species, site or origin of the litter. How much litter remains – and how much carbon and nitrogen within the litter – can thus be predicted best by precipitation, soil water content and air temperature (Portillo-Estrada et al. (2015). Biogeosciences).
- We came up with a fast and easy alternative to resource-intensive experiments to explore the importance of species evenness for ecosystem functioning, by applying a little trick to existing species richness-ecosystem functioning experiments (Lembrechts et al. (2017). Oikos).