Trait-based approaches in biodiversity and climate-change research
PD. Dr. Matthias Schleuning
Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (SBiK-F), Frankfurt am Main
Biodiversity is facing increasing pressures from ongoing climate change. A scientific challenge in predicting impacts of climate change on biodiversity is the incoporation of biotic interactions in concepts and models. Although these interactions are very important for ecosystem functioning and stability, the coupled responses of interacting species to climate change are only little understood. Here I present how the increasing availability of trait data provides new avenues for quantifying linkages between plants and animals in current and novel communities. First, I show how we can identify functional traits that determine the matching of species in ecological networks and how the functional trait diversity of plants and animals reciprocally impacts their plant and animal partners, respectively. Second, I will present how we can use trait-based approaches for improving forecasts of biodiversity under climate change. Based on these examples, I will propose a new trait-based framework for predicting responses of interacting species to climate change. The framework calls for integrative approaches in climate-change research to capture how novel ecological communities may assemble under future conditions.