Facilitation in plant communities: recent advances and future directions

Chris Smit,Santiago Soliveres,Fernando Maestre and Johannes Metz are organizing a special session on facilitation in plant communities within the 43rd Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of Germany, Austria and Switzerland, which will take place from September 9 to 13, 2013 in Potsdam, Germany.

The goal of this session is to report key advancements that have been made in the field of facilitation in plant communities since 2009, when the first meeting was held on this special theme in Aberdeen under the auspices of the British Ecological Society. Once seen as anomaly, positive plant-plant interactions and their importance for ecosystem structure and functioning are now fully recognized. The number of modelling, descriptive and experimental studies on facilitation is still growing, and facilitation theory – i.e. the stress gradient hypothesis (SGH) – has been successfully applied to all kinds of ecosystems throughout the globe, including terrestrial and aquatic systems, and even animal communities. Nonetheless, the SGH remains being discussed and refined. Our session will discuss the progress that has been made in facilitation research since 2009 by covering the following themes:  the relative importance of different (a)biotic drivers of facilitation, the importance of facilitation as a process driving plant communities (succession, dynamics, diversity-functioning relationship), importance of facilitation in the response of plant communities to global change, facilitation networks, and the evolutionary aspects of plant-plant facilitation.

Contributions to this session are wellcomed. Visit the webpage of the meeting for information on abstract submission and deadlines.