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Can increased plant diversity in agronomic swards improve adaptation to drought?

Key Objectives Funding

Investigate if mixtures of four agronomically relevant plant species show better resistance to and recovery from experimental drought conditions.

Examine how various levels of available water affects plant physiological behaviour and biomass production in mixtures and monocultures.

Explore plant rooting patterns associated with variability in water availability in mixtures and monocultures.


Animal Change Project

Personnel Collaborators
Eamon Haughey

Dr. John Finn, Teagasc.

European grasslands produce forage that supports dairy, beef, sheep and goat production. In order to continue to produce this forage in the face of climate change, grassland agriculture needs to adapt.

Recent studies have shown that there is potential to increase agricultural grassland productivity in grassland swards using modest increases in plant diversity. Less is known about how plant diversity affects ecosystem stability and its interactions with environmental perturbations, such as changes to climatic and atmospheric conditions. Some studies have shown that higher diversity can lead to increased resistance to climatic perturbations, however more work is needed to better understand the processes at work and to allow real world applications.

This project aims to examine if modest increases in plant biodiversity in agricultural grassland swards can help mitigate the effects of climate change. Mixtures of four plant species mixtures will be assessed in their ability to mitigate the effects of induced drought stress. This should lead to better understanding of how these effects occur and so benefit agricultural forage production in the future.






UCD Plant Palaeoecology and Palaeobiology Group Updated: July 2013
Professor J.C. McElwain