My main interest is to explain how community and ecosystem processes emerges from physiological, morphological and life history traits in plants. The research focuses on peatland ecology and covers community structure, competition, niche relations, ecophysiology, reproductive biology, dispersal and metapopulation dynamics in bryophytes. Sphagnum species (peat mosses), rich fen bryophytes and epiphytes are the main study objects.
Sphagnum mosses have a unique combination of traits that allow them to form and dominate the northern hemisphere peatlands. These peatlands have over millenia sequestered enormous amounts of carbon, and the current stock of global peat corresponds roughly to 50% of the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.
Capillarity and waterholding capacity in Sphagnum causes waterlogging and anoxic conditions that hamper microbial decay. Furthermore, their unique biochemistry with production of phenolics and organic acids leads to acidification of the habitat and rapid accumulation of decay-resistant litter. Our research focuses on these traits and how the invasion of Sphagnum can trigger transitions from calcareous fen to acid fen to bog. During this transition plant diversity decreases and peat storage increases. We are screening traits in a number of species, and are also involved in research to link the traits with phylogeny to be able to discuss the evolution of functional traits.
Other projects include studies of metapopulation and metacommunity processes, using epiphytic bryophytes as study systems, and applied research on the restoration of drained peatlands.
Löbel Swantje, Snäll T, Rydin H. Epiphytic bryophytes near forest edges and on retention trees: reduced growth and reproduction especially in old-growth-forest indicator species. Journal of Applied Ecology, in press.
Maciel-Silva AS, Válio IFM, Rydin H. 2012. Altitude affects the reproductive performance in monoicous and dioicous bryophytes: examples from a Brazilian Atlantic Rainforest. AoB Plants pls016; doi:10.1093/aobpla/pls016.
Limpens J, Granath G, Aerts R, Heijmans MMPD, Sheppard LJ, Bragazza L, Williams BL, Rydin H, Bubier J, Moore T, Rochefort L, Mitchell EAD, Buttler A, van den Berg LJL, Gunnarsson U, Francez AJ, Gerdol R, Thormann M, Grosvernier P, Wiedermann MM, Nilsson MB, Hoosbeek MR, Bayley S, Nordbakken JF, Paulissen MPCP, Hotes S, Breeuwer A, Ilomets M, Tomassen HBM, Leith I, Xu B. 2012. Glasshouse vs field experiments: do they yield ecologically similar results for assessing N impacts on peat mosses? New Phytologist doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8137.2012.04157.x
Millett J, Svensson B, Newton J, Rydin H. 2012. Reliance on prey-derived nitrogen by the carnivorous plant Drosera rotundifolia decreases with increasing nitrogen deposition. New Phytologist 195: 182-188.
Hedberg P, Kotowski W, Saetre P, Mälson K, Rydin H, Sundberg S. 2012. Vegetation recovery after multiple-site experimental fen restorations. Biological Conservation 147: 60–67.
See also the book Biology of peatlands