Browsing by Subject "functional trait"

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  • Opedal, Oystein H. (2018)
    Premise of research. Phenotypic traits that consistently mediate species' responses to environmental variation (functional traits) provide a promising approach toward generalizing ecological and evolutionary patterns and thereby gaining insights into the processes generating them. In the plant functional ecology literature, most trait-based studies have focused on traits mediating either resource competition or responses to variation in the abiotic environment, while traits mediating reproductive interactions have often been neglected. Methodology. Here, I discuss the value of herkogamy, the spatial separation of male and female functions in flowers, as a functional trait in plant reproductive biology and review the evidence relevant to the hypothesis that taxa exhibiting greater herkogamy have historically experienced more reliable pollination and more outcrossed mating systems. Pivotal results. A large body of work in the field of plant reproductive biology has identified a set of nearly ubiquitous correlations between average herkogamy and features of plant mating systems, notably, autofertility (seed set in the absence of pollinators) and outcrossing rate. Herkogamy often varies extensively among populations and species, and the adaptive interpretation is that herkogamy exhibits local adaptation to the reliability of the pollination environment. Conclusions. These results underline the value of herkogamy as a functional trait representing variation in mating histories. Many important insights are likely to emerge from studies leveraging herkogamy as an easily measured proxy of plant mating systems, as already demonstrated in comparative studies and studies of reproductive interactions. Greater consideration of herkogamy and other reproductive-function traits in studies of species coexistence may provide a more complete understanding of community assembly processes.
  • Ovaskainen, Otso; Tikhonov, Gleb; Norberg, Anna; Blanchet, F. Guillaume; Duan, Leo; Dunson, David; Roslin, Tomas; Abrego, Nerea (2017)
    Community ecology aims to understand what factors determine the assembly and dynamics of species assemblages at different spatiotemporal scales. To facilitate the integration between conceptual and statistical approaches in community ecology, we propose Hierarchical Modelling of Species Communities (HMSC) as a general, flexible framework for modern analysis of community data. While non-manipulative data allow for only correlative and not causal inference, this framework facilitates the formulation of data-driven hypotheses regarding the processes that structure communities. We model environmental filtering by variation and covariation in the responses of individual species to the characteristics of their environment, with potential contingencies on species traits and phylogenetic relationships. We capture biotic assembly rules by species-to-species association matrices, which may be estimated at multiple spatial or temporal scales. We operationalise the HMSC framework as a hierarchical Bayesian joint species distribution model, and implement it as R-and Matlab-packages which enable computationally efficient analyses of large data sets. Armed with this tool, community ecologists can make sense of many types of data, including spatially explicit data and time-series data. We illustrate the use of this framework through a series of diverse ecological examples.
  • Dawson, Samantha K.; Carmona, Carlos Pérez; González-Suárez, Manuela; Jönsson, Mari; Chichorro, Filipe; Mallen-Cooper, Max; Melero, Yolanda; Moor, Helen; Simaika, John P.; Duthie, Alexander Bradley (2021)
    Trait and functional trait approaches have revolutionized ecology improving our understanding of community assembly, species coexistence, and biodiversity loss. Focusing on traits promotes comparability across spatial and organizational scales, but terms must be used consistently. While several papers have offered definitions, it remains unclear how ecologists operationalize "trait" and "functional trait" terms. Here, we evaluate how researchers and the published literatures use these terms and explore differences among subdisciplines and study systems (taxa and biome). By conducting both a survey and a literature review, we test the hypothesis that ecologists' working definition of "trait" is adapted or altered when confronting the realities of collecting, analyzing and presenting data. From 486 survey responses and 712 reviewed papers, we identified inconsistencies in the understanding and use of terminology among researchers, but also limited inclusion of definitions within the published literature. Discrepancies were not explained by subdiscipline, system of study, or respondent characteristics, suggesting there could be an inconsistent understanding even among those working in related topics. Consistencies among survey responses included the use of morphological, phonological, and physiological traits. Previous studies have called for unification of terminology; yet, our study shows that proposed definitions are not consistently used or accepted. Sources of disagreement include trait heritability, defining and interpreting function, and dealing with organisms in which individuals are not clearly recognizable. We discuss and offer guidelines for overcoming these disagreements. The diversity of life on Earth means traits can represent different features that can be measured and reported in different ways, and thus, narrow definitions that work for one system will fail in others. We recommend ecologists embrace the breadth of biodiversity using a simplified definition of "trait" more consistent with its common use. Trait-based approaches will be most powerful if we accept that traits are at least as diverse as trait ecologists.
  • Iversen, Lars Lønsmann; Girón, Jorge García; Pan, Yingji (Elsevier, 2022)
    Aquatic Botany
    Functional biogeography has advanced the field of functional ecology into a more spatiallysingle bondpredictive science. However, freshwater plants are still underrepresented in these traitsingle bondbased advancements. Here, we argue that there is a need for developing a functional biogeographical framework for freshwater plants and initiate global mapping efforts focusing on the form and function of freshwater plants. Specific attention should be given to (1) the placement of freshwater plants in the global plant trait space and show how this placement links to global traitsingle bondenvironment relationships; (2) the theoretical framework for major structural traitsingle bondtrait correlations based on the physical constraints in aquatic ecosystems; (3) the evolutionary and environmental drivers underlying the global distribution of intersingle bond and intrasingle bondspecific variation in different life forms; and (4) the level of equilibrium between spatial and temporal traitsingle bondenvironment relationships in freshwater plants. By putting freshwater plants in the context of these spatial aspects, we could advance our understanding of freshwater plant adaptations and responses to environmental gradients, and thereby facilitate predicting the consequences of global changes for freshwater ecosystem functions and services.