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See detailPlant functional trait diversity in wildflower strips: the key to promote pollinators in agricultural landscapes?
Uyttenbroeck, Roel ULg; Piqueray, Julien; Monty, Arnaud ULg

Conference (2016, October 27)

Creating wildflower strips is often suggested as a tool to support pollinator diversity in agricultural landscapes and to promote crop pollination service. The choice of the plant species to sow in flower ... [more ▼]

Creating wildflower strips is often suggested as a tool to support pollinator diversity in agricultural landscapes and to promote crop pollination service. The choice of the plant species to sow in flower strips can influence the effectivity of the strips in supporting pollinators. While it has already been shown that increasing plant species diversity is beneficial for ecosystem services, it is often suggested that plant functional traits and functional trait diversity are the key for this relationship. We created a replicated field experiment with different levels of plant functional diversity in wildflower strips in Belgium to test the effect on the flower-visiting pollinator community. We sampled plant-pollinator interaction networks during 2 years and assessed how the plant functional diversity affected the network structure. Plant functional diversity did not have a clear effect on visiting pollinator species richness, however a different interaction pattern was observed with different functional diversity level. Pollinators in wildflower strips with higher functional diversity had less overlap in their ecological niche, while network stability and robustness for secondary extinctions were not affected. We discuss implications for wildflower strip design. [less ▲]

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See detailEffects of seed traits variation on seedling performance of the invasive weed, Ambrosia artemisiifolia
Monty, Arnaud ULg; Mahy, Grégory ULg; Ortmans, William ULg

Poster (2016, September 14)

Seedling performance can determine the survival of a juvenile plant and impact adult plant performance. Understanding the factors that may impact seedling performance is thus critical, especially for ... [more ▼]

Seedling performance can determine the survival of a juvenile plant and impact adult plant performance. Understanding the factors that may impact seedling performance is thus critical, especially for annuals, opportunists or invasive plant species. Seedling performance can vary among mothers or populations in response to environmental conditions or under the influence of seed traits. However, very few studies have investigated seed traits variations and their consequences on seedling performance. Specifically, the following questions have been addressed by this work: 1) How the seed traits of the invasive Ambrosia artemisiifolia L. vary among mothers and populations, as well as along the latitude; 2) How do seed traits influence seedling performance; 3) Is the influence on seedlings temperature dependent. With seeds from nine Western Europe ruderal populations, seed traits that can influence seedling development were measured. The seeds were sown into growth chambers with warmer or colder temperature treatments. During seedling growth, performance-related traits were measured. A high variability in seed traits was highlighted. Variation was determined by the mother identity and population, but not latitude. Together, the temperature, population and the identity of the mother had an effect on seedling performance. Seed traits had a relative impact on seedling performance, but this did not appear to be temperature dependent. Seedling performance exhibited a strong plastic response to the temperature, was shaped by the identity of the mother and the population, and was influenced by a number of seed traits. [less ▲]

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See detailFirst come first served: “priority effect“ benefits Ambrosia artemisiifolia L. more than other ruderal Asteraceae species
Ortmans, William ULg; Mahy, Grégory ULg; Monty, Arnaud ULg

Poster (2016, September 14)

Ambrosia artemisiifolia L. (common ragweed, Asteraceae) is an invasive weed causing a health crisis in Europe, due to its highly allergenic pollen. In Western Europe the invaded range covers most of ... [more ▼]

Ambrosia artemisiifolia L. (common ragweed, Asteraceae) is an invasive weed causing a health crisis in Europe, due to its highly allergenic pollen. In Western Europe the invaded range covers most of central and southern France, and northern Italy. Northwards beyond the edge of this range, occurrence of casual population have been described for years, but these populations do not appear to become invasive, and the species does not seem to spread. This situation raises the following question: Has the invaded range reached a limit or will the species continue its invasion northwards? To answer this question, we followed two complementary approaches. First we set up an experimental garden in Belgium, 250 km north to the current invaded range, to see if the local climate allows the completion of the species reproduction cycle. Second, we performed an in situ measurement campaign in 12 population located beyond the edge, within the range but near the margin, and in the center of the invaded range. The aim of this campaign was to test whether the species had reduced plant performance towards range margins. The results showed that the species is able to establish populations with high growth rates in Belgium. Furthermore, the species expressed similar performance across the considered areas, even beyond the current invasion front. No evidence of processes constraining the invasion was found, which suggests a great potential for invasion north to the current invaded range. In this uncertain situation, awareness actions should be considered in the northern countries. [less ▲]

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See detailIs Ambrosia artemisiifolia L. able to expand its invaded range northward in Western Europe?
Ortmans, William ULg; Mahy, Grégory ULg; Monty, Arnaud ULg

Conference (2016, September 13)

Ambrosia artemisiifolia L. (common ragweed, Asteraceae) is an invasive weed causing a health crisis in Europe, due to its highly allergenic pollen. In Western Europe the invaded range covers most of ... [more ▼]

Ambrosia artemisiifolia L. (common ragweed, Asteraceae) is an invasive weed causing a health crisis in Europe, due to its highly allergenic pollen. In Western Europe the invaded range covers most of central and southern France, and northern Italy. Northwards beyond the edge of this range, occurrence of casual population have been described for years, but these populations do not appear to become invasive, and the species does not seem to spread. This situation raises the following question: Has the invaded range reached a limit or will the species continue its invasion northwards? To answer this question, we followed two complementary approaches. First we set up an experimental garden in Belgium, 250 km north to the current invaded range, to see if the local climate allows the completion of the species reproduction cycle. Second, we performed an in situ measurement campaign in 12 population located beyond the edge, within the range but near the margin, and in the center of the invaded range. The aim of this campaign was to test whether the species had reduced plant performance towards range margins. The results showed that the species is able to establish populations with high growth rates in Belgium. Furthermore, the species expressed similar performance across the considered areas, even beyond the current invasion front. No evidence of processes constraining the invasion was found, which suggests a great potential for invasion north to the current invaded range. In this uncertain situation, awareness actions should be considered in the northern countries. [less ▲]

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See detailOccurrence rates of invasive plants in limestone quarries (Southern Belgium)
Pitz, Carline ULg; Jorion, Alexis ULg; Mahy, Grégory ULg et al

Conference (2016, August 23)

In quarries, invasive plant species can slow down the installation of high conservation value vegetation. Successful management of invasive requires, at first, a quantitative assessment of invasion levels ... [more ▼]

In quarries, invasive plant species can slow down the installation of high conservation value vegetation. Successful management of invasive requires, at first, a quantitative assessment of invasion levels. Although European legislation has adopted an ambitious strategy against invasive species, there is still a lack of knowledge about their occurrence in quarries. The aim of this study was to evaluate occurrence rates of invasive plant species in limestone quarries throughout Wallonia (Southern Belgium) and identify high priority and emerging invasive plants for adapted management. During 2016 vegetation period, forty quarries were selected by stratified sampling, using abandoned and active quarries as strata. Within selected quarries, two-meter wide transects were established to cross all activity sectors. Transects were divided in 10x2m plots, resulting in 2% of total surface of each quarry being surveyed. Cover and number of individuals of invasive plants species were recorded in each plot. Species considered were those of Harmonia list (67 species), the reference at the Wallonia scale. More than 30 000 plots were surveyed. Results of our recent study are presented (occurrences rates by species, mean percentage cover per site). First results indicate that dominant invasive species originate from different introduction paths: (i) planted (Robinia pseudoacacia); (ii) ornamentals (Cotoneaster horizontalis) and (iii) spontaneous colonization (Senecio inaequidens) - and follow various invasion dynamics. We propose research and management methods to be directed towards limitation of top ten frequent species (e.g. Buddleia davidii, Senecio inaequidens), and to establish a detection system for the emerging invasive plants. [less ▲]

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See detailA population approach to evaluate grassland restoration - a systematic review
Harzé, Mélanie ULg; Monty, Arnaud ULg; Boisson, Sylvain ULg et al

Conference (2016, August)

How do we know if restoration goals are achieved? In practice, the criteria used to evaluate the success of restoration actions are numerous and can be defined at different ecological scales, i.e. at the ... [more ▼]

How do we know if restoration goals are achieved? In practice, the criteria used to evaluate the success of restoration actions are numerous and can be defined at different ecological scales, i.e. at the population, community or ecosystem level. Most studies about restoration success monitoring assessed attributes corresponding to the community or ecosystem levels like species diversity, vegetation structure and ecological processes. Has the population approach been disregarded to evaluate restoration success? This systematic review of the literature aimed to identify how often plant population traits were used to monitor restoration of grasslands. Practically, 3133 papers were reviewed among which 1065 reported monitoring of plant species after a restoration action. Only 153 papers used a population approach and represent the core of this review. Detailed results and paper content will be presented with the aim to identify restoration protocols (with or without species addition), species of interest, population attributes and processes considered to evaluate restoration success. [less ▲]

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See detailDiaspore heteromorphism in the invasive Bromus tectorum L. (Poaceae): sterile fl orets increase dispersal propensity and distance
Monty, Arnaud ULg; Maebe, Laura ULg; Mahy, Grégory ULg et al

in Flora (2016)

Within a species, the distance travelled by a particular diaspore depends on its morphology. In Poaceae, the presence of terminal sterile florets can lead to diaspore heteromorphism, which may influence ... [more ▼]

Within a species, the distance travelled by a particular diaspore depends on its morphology. In Poaceae, the presence of terminal sterile florets can lead to diaspore heteromorphism, which may influence dispersal. We tested the hypothesis that the presence of sterile florets favored dispersal in Bromus tectorum L., an invasive grass in the Western US. We used field and controlled experiments to study the dispersal of caryopses with and without sterile florets attached (respectively complex and simple diaspores), as well as pieces of inflorescence that detached from the mother plants. We considered both primary and secondary dispersal, as well as abiotic and biotic dispersal agents. The distance travelled by the diaspores and their attachment to animal fur were related to the presence and number of sterile florets. Abiotic agents moved diaspores over relatively short distances, both in terms of primary and secondary dispersal. A significant proportion of diaspores attached to fur, suggesting a potential for dispersal over longdistances. Complex diaspores were better dispersers than simple ones (and pieces of inflorescence), and this pattern was consistent across the study. However, among complex diaspores, the number of sterile florets had little or no influence. Considering primary and secondary dispersal by abiotic and biotic agents provided a general picture of the dispersal ecology of B. tectorum. For all the dispersal steps and dispersal agents we studied, the presence of sterile florets favored dispersal. These results highlight the functional significance of diaspore heteromorphism induced by floret sterility in the dispersal of Poaceae. [less ▲]

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See detailNo evidence for genetic differentiation between French and Belgian populations of the exotic tree Robinia pseudoacacia
Bouteiller, Xavier; Aikio, E; Raimbault, A et al

Poster (2016, May)

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See detailStructuration of Robinia pseudoacacia L. genetic diversity in the American natural range and derived Belgian populations
Verdu, Cindy; Daïnou, Kasso; De Thier, Olivier et al

Poster (2016, May)

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See detailMonitoring the occurrence of invasive plants in different types of natural habitats
Monty, Arnaud ULg; Frisson, Gwenn; Delbart, Emmanuel et al

Conference (2016, April 19)

Protected areas and the Natura 2000 network are keystones of the EU nature and biodiversity policy. However, alien plants do not stop their spread at the border of protected areas and invasive plants are ... [more ▼]

Protected areas and the Natura 2000 network are keystones of the EU nature and biodiversity policy. However, alien plants do not stop their spread at the border of protected areas and invasive plants are reported to threaten many ecosystems, from aquatic and riparian areas to dry and xeric sites. The presentation summarizes three large-scale quantitative assessments of the occurrence of exotic plants in Wallonia, i.e. the southern part of Belgium. Three types of natural habitats were the focus of the assessments: i) ponds and lakes (400 sites); ii) river banks (187 sites); and iii) xeric ecosystems such dry grasslands, rocky habitats and screes (86 sites). In the three studies, sites were selected through a stratified sampling then visited. Exotic plants were recorded and their abundance assessed. Additional information about population dynamics, environmental conditions and visible impacts was recorded. Elodea spp. were the most common species in water bodies, with occurrence rates reaching 2.7%. Other aquatic alien species were found, but with an occurrence rate below 1%. Along rivers, 51 alien species were observed. Some were widespread (e.g. Impatiens glandulifera, with 17 % of linear banks invaded) whereas others were either rare or considered emergent alien species. Analyses showed that typical riparian species’ occurrence increased with the size of the watershed, indicating propagule pressure within protected areas through hydrochory. In xeric sites, the most common species were either cultivated or ornamental ones such as Juglans regia, Cotoneaster horizontalis, Prunus serotina, Robinia pseudoacacia and Buddleja davidii. The former was found in 15.1% of the visited sites. The implications of the different results, notably about emergent species, are related to the need for an effective early detection system. [less ▲]

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See detailIs Ambrosia artemisiifolia L. able to expand its invaded range northward in Western Europe?
Ortmans, William ULg; Mahy, Grégory ULg; Monty, Arnaud ULg

Poster (2016, April 19)

Ambrosia artemisiifolia L. (common ragweed, Asteraceae) is an invasive weed causing a health crisis in Europe, due to its highly allergenic pollen. In Western Europe the invaded range covers most of ... [more ▼]

Ambrosia artemisiifolia L. (common ragweed, Asteraceae) is an invasive weed causing a health crisis in Europe, due to its highly allergenic pollen. In Western Europe the invaded range covers most of central and southern France, and northern Italy. Northwards beyond the edge of this range, occurrence of casual population have been described for years, but these populations do not appear to become invasive, and the species does not seem to spread. This situation raises the following question: Has the invaded range reached a limit or will the species continue its invasion northwards? To answer this question, we followed two complementary approaches. First we set up an experimental garden in Belgium, 250 km north to the current invaded range, to see if the local climate allows the completion of the species reproduction cycle. Second, we performed an in situ measurement campaign in 12 population located beyond the edge, within the range but near the margin, and in the center of the invaded range. The aim of this campaign was to test whether the species had reduced plant performance towards range margins. The results showed that the species is able to establish populations with high growth rates in Belgium. Furthermore, the species expressed similar performance across the considered areas, even beyond the current invasion front. No evidence of processes constraining the invasion was found, which suggests a great potential for invasion north to the current invaded range. In this uncertain situation, awareness actions should be considered in the northern countries. [less ▲]

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See detailSNP development from RADseq data for the non-model species Robinia pseudoacacia L.
Verdu, Cindy; Guichoux, Erwan; Quevauvillers, Samuel et al

Poster (2016, April 04)

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See detailPerformance variation of common ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia L.) across invasion levels in Western Europe
Ortmans, William ULg; Mahy, Grégory ULg; Chauvel, Bruno et al

in Flora (2016), 220

The occurrence of an invasive plant across a continent is generally not homogeneous; typically, some areas are highly invaded whereas others show moderate or low invasion levels. This situation might be a ... [more ▼]

The occurrence of an invasive plant across a continent is generally not homogeneous; typically, some areas are highly invaded whereas others show moderate or low invasion levels. This situation might be a snapshot of an ongoing spread, but it could also remain stable under the pressure of factors that constrain the invasion. Among those factors, plant performance variation among invasion levels can explain an invasion slowdown. However, few studies have investigated the large-scale variation of invasive plant performance in the field. Ambrosia artemisiifolia L. in Western Europe represents a good opportunity to address this issue, with areas of high, moderate and low invasion levels being documented across a ca. 1000 km transect. In this study, we compared in situ plant performance-related traits in 12 populations from areas of contrasting invasion levels. We also tested whether performance-related traits were influenced by the intra-and inter-specific competition, by the local climatic conditions or by latitude (a proxy for growing season length). Overall, we did not find differences in performance-related traits across invasion levels, and intra-and inter-specific competition had low effects on plant performance. This study highlights the fact that A. artemisiifolia individuals express similar performance across invasion levels, even beyond what can be considered the present invasion front. Further research has to expand this study northwards, and assess other factors that could constrain the invasion in order to highlight if the species invasion northward is constrained or if it has the potential to invade new areas. [less ▲]

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See detailEffects of seed traits variation on seedling performance of the invasive weed, Ambrosia artemisiifolia L.
Ortmans, William ULg; Mahy, Grégory ULg; Monty, Arnaud ULg

in Acta Oecologica: International Journal of Ecology (2016), 71

Seedling performance can determine the survival of a juvenile plant and impact adult plant performance. Understanding the factors that may impact seedling performance is thus critical, especially for ... [more ▼]

Seedling performance can determine the survival of a juvenile plant and impact adult plant performance. Understanding the factors that may impact seedling performance is thus critical, especially for annuals, opportunists or invasive plant species. Seedling performance can vary among mothers or populations in response to environmental conditions or under the influence of seed traits. However, very few studies have investigated seed traits variations and their consequences on seedling performance. Specifically, the following questions have been addressed by this work: 1) How the seed traits of the invasive Ambrosia artemisiifolia L. vary among mothers and populations, as well as along the latitude; 2) How do seed traits influence seedling performance; 3) Is the influence on seedlings temperature dependent. With seeds from nine Western Europe ruderal populations, seed traits that can influence seedling development were measured. The seeds were sown into growth chambers with warmer or colder temperature treatments. During seedling growth, performance-related traits were measured. A high variability in seed traits was highlighted. Variation was determined by the mother identity and population, but not latitude. Together, the temperature, population and the identity of the mother had an effect on seedling performance. Seed traits had a relative impact on seedling performance, but this did not appear to be temperature dependent. Seedling performance exhibited a strong plastic response to the temperature, was shaped by the identity of the mother and the population, and was influenced by a number of seed traits. [less ▲]

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See detailDealing with paralogy in RADseq data: in silico detection and single nucleotide polymorphism validation in Robinia pseudoacacia L.
Verdu, C. F.; Guichoux, E.; Quevauvillers, Samuel ULg et al

in Ecology and Evolution (2016)

The RADseq technology allows researchers to efficiently develop thousands of polymorphic loci across multiple individuals with little or no prior information on the genome. However, many questions remain ... [more ▼]

The RADseq technology allows researchers to efficiently develop thousands of polymorphic loci across multiple individuals with little or no prior information on the genome. However, many questions remain about the biases inherent to this technology. Notably, sequence misalignments arising from paralogy may affect the development of single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers and the estimation of genetic diversity. We evaluated the impact of putative paralog loci on genetic diversity estimation during the development of SNPs from a RADseq dataset for the nonmodel tree species Robinia pseudoacacia L. We sequenced nine genotypes and analyzed the frequency of putative paralogous RAD loci as a function of both the depth of coverage and the mismatch threshold allowed between loci. Putative paralogy was detected in a very variable number of loci, from 1% to more than 20%, with the depth of coverage having a major influence on the result. Putative paralogy artificially increased the observed degree of polymorphism and resulting estimates of diversity. The choice of the depth of coverage also affected diversity estimation and SNP validation: A low threshold decreased the chances of detecting minor alleles while a high threshold increased allelic dropout. SNP validation was better for the low threshold (4×) than for the high threshold (18×) we tested. Using the strategy developed here, we were able to validate more than 80% of the SNPs tested by means of individual genotyping, resulting in a readily usable set of 330 SNPs, suitable for use in population genetics applications. [less ▲]

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See detailGrasshoppers as a food source? A review
Paul, Aman ULg; Frederich, Michel ULg; Uyttenbroeck, Roel ULg et al

in Biotechnologie, Agronomie, Société et Environnement = Biotechnology, Agronomy, Society and Environment (2016), 20(AgricultureIsLife), 337-352

Description of the subject. Current trends suggest an increasing future demand for conventional meats, which indicates a strong need to shift this dependency to other alternative protein sources such as ... [more ▼]

Description of the subject. Current trends suggest an increasing future demand for conventional meats, which indicates a strong need to shift this dependency to other alternative protein sources such as insects. Literature. From a nutritional point of view, of all the insects consumed globally, grasshoppers are particularly important as a human food. Data from the literature regarding the nutrient composition, amino acid profile, fatty acid profile, mineral composition and vitamin content of grasshoppers as reviewed in this paper, suggest that a number of grasshopper species are a good source of nutrients. It also highlights some of the health related aspects that might arise from the consumption of grasshoppers, mostly linked to agricultural practices and the allergic response of sensitive individuals. The paper also summarizes some religious, social and economic factors that are associated with grasshopper consumption. Conclusions. The success of introducing grasshoppers as a novel food in western countries depends on changes in consumer attitudes. It would be interesting to develop food products derived from grasshoppers in a form acceptable to consumers. Furthermore, it is important to explore the food potential of some grasshopper species native to western countries and to develop their rearing methodologies to enhance availability. [less ▲]

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See detailPros and cons of flowers strips for farmers. A review
Uyttenbroeck, Roel ULg; Hatt, Séverin ULg; Paul, Aman ULg et al

in Biotechnologie, Agronomie, Société et Environnement = Biotechnology, Agronomy, Society and Environment (2016), 20(s1), 225-235

Description of the subject. To counteract environmental problems due to agricultural intensification, European farmers can apply agri-environmental schemes in their fields. Flower strips are one example ... [more ▼]

Description of the subject. To counteract environmental problems due to agricultural intensification, European farmers can apply agri-environmental schemes in their fields. Flower strips are one example of these schemes, with the aim of supporting biodiversity, leading to an increase in “useful” species groups such as pollinators for crop pollination and natural enemies for pest control. However, to our knowledge, a complete appraisal of the pros and cons of flower strips, from a farmer’s point of view, does not yet exist. It is proposed that better and more complete information could increase the adoption and implementation of such agri-environmental schemes. Objectives. This study aims 1) to assess the pros and cons of flower strips, from a farmer’s point of view, and 2) to highlight the knowledge gaps that exist in the scientific literature, for the different types of pros and cons. Method. We listed the different components of the appraisal of pros and cons and conducted a systematic screening of the scientific literature on flower strips and these components. Results. The largest part of the 31 selected studies was concerning agronomical and ecological processes, such as pollination and animal pest control. Most of them indicated positive effects of flower strips. For many components of the appraisal, mostly economic and social ones, few or no studies were found. Conclusions. While a positive balance of pros and cons, from a farmer’s point of view, came from our literature screening, large research gaps still remain and more research is required, especially in the economic and social components of the evaluation. [less ▲]

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See detailFunctional traits are more variable at the intra- than inter-population level: a study of four calcareous dry-grassland plant species
Harzé, Mélanie ULg; Mahy, Grégory ULg; Monty, Arnaud ULg

in Tuexenia (2016), 36

The majority of studies investigating plant functional traits have used species average trait values, and assumed that average values were sufficiently representative of each species considered. Although ... [more ▼]

The majority of studies investigating plant functional traits have used species average trait values, and assumed that average values were sufficiently representative of each species considered. Although this approach has proven valuable in community ecology studies, plant functional traits can significant-ly vary at different scales, i.e. between but also within populations. The study of species functional trait variability can facilitate increasingly accurate studies in community ecology. Nevertheless, the current extent of within-site plant trait variability has been poorly addressed in the literature. Calcareous grass-lands are ecosystems well-suited to study plant trait variation at small spatial scales. Many species are present on heterogeneous calcareous sites, with significant differences in hydric status due to variations in soil depth, soil moisture, aspect, and slope. This study assesses the extent of intra-population func-tional trait variability and tests the hypothesis that this variability can be explained by within-site envi-ronmental heterogeneity. Three functional traits (SLA-specific leaf area, LDMC-leaf dry matter con-tent, and plant vegetative height) were assessed in three populations of four calcareous grassland spe-cies totalling 950 individuals. The heterogeneity in soil depth and potential direct incident radiation was also quantified and related to plant functional trait variability. The intra-population functional trait variability was compared to the inter-population variability of collected data and global inter-population variability data obtained from the worldwide TRY functional traits database. The results showed that SLA, LDMC, and plant height are characterized by considerable intra-population variation (SLA: 72–95%, LDMC: 78–100% and vegetative height: 70–94% of trait variability). The results also indicate higher plant height and larger SLA for individuals located in plots with deeper soils or lower potential direct incident radiation, on gentle slopes or north-facing slopes. Our findings additionally support the concept that higher plant height, higher SLA, and lower LDMC are related to higher availability of soil water. Individuals on shallow soils or in more exposed areas are better equipped to cope with environ-mental stress. Our results indicate plasticity or local adaptation in individuals to environmental hetero-geneity. This study suggests that detailed analyses involving plant functional traits require measure-ments in situ from a large number of individuals, as the degree of individual response strongly depends on an individual’s location and its micro-environmental conditions. Neglecting intra-population trait variability may be critical, as intraspecific variation can be very high at the population scale, and is likely to be driven by local environmental heterogeneity.javascript:$('next-but').click(); [less ▲]

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See detailTowards sustainable food systems: the concept of agroecology and how it questions current research practices. A review
Hatt, Séverin ULg; Artru, Sidonie ULg; Brédart, David ULg et al

in Biotechnologie, Agronomie, Société et Environnement = Biotechnology, Agronomy, Society and Environment (2016), 20(Special issue 1), 215-224

Introduction. Multiple environmental and socio-economic indicators show that our current agriculture and the organization of the food system need to be revised. Agroecology has been proposed as a ... [more ▼]

Introduction. Multiple environmental and socio-economic indicators show that our current agriculture and the organization of the food system need to be revised. Agroecology has been proposed as a promising concept for achieving greater sustainability. This paper offers an overview and discussion of the concept based on existing literature and case studies, and explores the way it questions our current research approaches and education paradigms. Literature. In order to improve the sustainability of agriculture, the use of external and chemical inputs needs to be minimized. Agroecological farming practices seek to optimize ecological processes, thus minimizing the need for external inputs by providing an array of ecosystem services. Implementing such practices challenges the current structure of the food system, which has been criticized for its lack of social relevance and economic viability. An agroecological approach includes all stakeholders, from field to fork, in the discussion, design and development of future food systems. This inclusion of various disciplines and stakeholders raises issues about scientists and their research practices, as well as about the education of the next generation of scientists. Conclusions. Agroecology is based on the concept that agricultural practices and food systems cannot be dissociated because they belong to the same natural and socio-economic context. Clearly, agroecology is not a silver-bullet, but its principles can serve as avenues for rethinking the current approaches towards achieving greater sustainability. Adapting research approaches in line with indicators that promote inter- and transdisciplinary research is essential if progress is to be made. [less ▲]

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See detailAgricultureIsLife or how to facilitate innovation in agriculture through multi-disciplinary research
Monty, Arnaud ULg; Garré, Sarah ULg; Bindelle, Jérôme ULg et al

in Biotechnologie, Agronomie, Société et Environnement = Biotechnology, Agronomy, Society and Environment (2016)

Detailed reference viewed: 28 (4 ULg)