Track: Organized Oral Session
Biogeography, macroecology, and community ecology has shifted focus from clade-based ecology (e.g, mammal-centric, avian-centric, herp-centric) to functional-trait-based ecology (species-level traits) and now to individual-level traits as metrics by which to understand drivers of patterns of species that occur across space and time. Most trait measurements are done at the individual-level, but primary data are often lacking, forcing researchers to use averages from the literature without knowing geographic, sex, or other biases in sampling. This undermines researchers’ efforts to discern intra-specific changes in traits across geographic and environmental scales. Further, as environmental metrics increasingly become finer and finer in scale (~1 m2), geographic scale no longer matches the scale of traits reported in the literature (typically at the regional to global scale). Individual-level traits are used as a metric to test for functional redundancy in a system and niche overlap within and among species in a community, which is important for understanding the effects of biodiversity loss; susceptibility to invasion, which is increasing with global connectivity; and response of traits to stressors, such as human-induced climate and land-use change. Characterizing trait variation within a species is especially important to understand if and how species can respond to climate change by differentiating phenotypic plasticity from evolution. As climate change progresses, populations at the edges of species’ geographic range are likely to be most affected, and so understanding the range of a trait gives insight into the amount a species can shift phenotypically. Thus, using individual-level traits are important. Here, we highlight work using individual-level traits to answer pressing questions in biogeography, macroecology, and community ecology. We seek to inspire and build a community of researchers contributing to and using individual-level traits to answer pressing ecological issues.
Presenting Author: Brooks A. Kohli – Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology, The Ohio State University
Presenting Author: Bryan McLean – Biology, University of North Carolina Greensboro
Presenting Author: Melissa Pardi – Research & Collections Center, Illinois State Museum
Presenting Author: Benjamin Baiser – Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, University of Florida
Presenting Author: Advait M. Jukar – Yale Institute for Biospheric Studies, Yale University
Presenting Author: Nicolas DelSol – University of Florida