Species Traits, Species Pools & Biodiversity Change

How does regional biodiversity assemble into local communities

in natural and human-modified landscapes?

A key challenge at the interface of biogeography, conservation and ecology is to understand drivers of community assembly across local and regional scales.  Pattern of functional diversity can provide insights into the mechanisms of community assembly.  However, studies are often limited to a single scale which limits our ability to identify the drivers of biodiversity and ecosystem functioning.  To address this shortcoming we are examining variation in functional diversity from the individual tree scale to the continental scale to better elucidate mechanisms of community assembly.  We are examining how ontogenetic shifts in the direction or strength of trait-environment relationships could obscure the relative importance of different assembly mechanisms inferred from whole community approaches that combine ontogenetic stages.  We are also examining the extent to which biogeographic gradients in beta-diversity are driven by local processes, regional processes, or the interplay between them by investigating how the taxonomic and functional structure of regional species pools influences community assembly within and across temperate ForestGEO plots that span a large-scale biodiversity gradient.


Photo Gallery of the Tyson Research Center Plot, Missouri Ozarks

Photo Gallery of the Wind River Forest Dynamics Plot, Washington (coming soon)



We thank the Tyson Research Center, the Smithsonian Institution Forest Global Earth Observatory (ForestGEO), and the CTFS-ForestGEO Grants Program for supporting our research.

Sampling Leaf & Wood Traits in a Tropical Forest, Madidi National Park, Bolivia (September 2012)

Carolina Buckthorn (Rhamnus caroliniana [Rhamnaceae]) & Flowering Dogwood
(Cornus florida [Cornaceae]) Fruits,
Tyson Research Center, Missouri Ozarks

Wind River Trait & Soil Sampling Team,
Wind River Forest Dynamics Plot,
Washington (June 2014)