Trait-based approaches in explaining shifts in species composition

The isopod Porcellio spinicornis, one of the most drought tolerant species in cities (Photo credit Jan van Duinen).

Funded through various grants and in close cooperation with MSc students, Matty P. Berg and his team investigates how functional traits can be used to understand shifts in soil fauna species composition across time and space, for instance across rural-urban gradients or in urban green (green roofs and flower beds). By combining trait measurements in laboratory settings with community data they try to understand and predict how environmental change effect community composition. Furthermore, by adopting a Response-to Effect Trait Framework consequences of a shift in community composition for ecosystem functions can be studied. First results point to a strong predictive power when adopting trait-based approaches are used to understand changes in species composition across rural-urban gradients.

See this paper in Soil Biology and Biochemistry on the shift in soil fauna species composition across a rural-urban landscape gradient explained by functional traits and this paper in Journal of Vegetation Science on the R-to-E trait Framework.

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