DIVGRASS : Plant Functional DIVersity of GRASSlands

DIVGRASS (2011-2013) is funded by the FRB-CESAB

DIVGRASS aims to integrate and share existing knowledge on plant diversity in French Permanent Grasslands (PG). PG have been traditionally maintained through grazing or cutting and represent a hotspot of biodiversity. PG are under threat worldwide.  In France, the area of PG has declined by around 15% over the last two decades.

We will collate and distribute readily analyzable data sets covering the diversity of plant, soil, land use and climate in French PG. Combining these information is required to address key questions in ecosystem and global change science, like:

  • how are plant diversity patterns distributed across gradients of land use and climate ? 
  • how does plant diversity relate to key ecosystem properties such as primary productivity, soil carbon stocks etc. ?
  • how does plant functional diversity impact biogeochemical cycling ?

DIVGRASS will demonstrate the potential to address this challenge from the double point of view of data synthesis and of knowledge generation, with PG as a demonstration example. The need to combine heterogeneous data to address questions relevant to DIVGRASS will serve as a basis to identify key steps and breakthroughs necessary to integrate data from various ecological disciplines.

The consortium includes experts in grassland functional ecology, soil science and ecosystem modelling. DIVGRASS will also provide a unique arena for academic and land-use managers to share data and knowledge on PG. We anticipate that the project outcomes will foster emerging networks of excellence in grassland science benefitting from an unprecedented combination of accessible information on PG.


Left: Distribution of Permanent Grasslands in France. Right: Intensively managed grassland in Normandy (top) and extensively managed dry meadow in Southern Massif Central (Causse du Larzac) (Courtesy E. Garnier)