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Current Landscape Ecology Reports

, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp 12–22 | Cite as

The Scale-Dependent Role of Biological Traits in Landscape Ecology: A Review

  • Andrés Felipe Suárez-Castro
  • Jeremy S. Simmonds
  • Matthew G. E. Mitchell
  • Martine Maron
  • Jonathan R. Rhodes
Scale-Measurement, Influence, and Integration (A Martin and J Holland, Section Editors)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Scale-Measurement, Influence, and Integration

Abstract

Purpose of Review

We describe current approaches that evaluate how the influence of species traits on the relationship between environmental variables and ecological responses varies among scales (i.e. the scale-dependent role of traits). We quantify which traits and ecological responses have been assessed, and discuss the main challenges associated with quantifying the scale-dependent effect of traits.

Recent Findings

We identify three main approaches used to evaluate the scale-dependent role of traits, based on whether 1) traits are used as predictors or responses, 2) intraspecific variation in single traits is considered, or 3) trait diversity indices are used. Our review identifies several gaps that include the following: 1) evidence of the scale-dependent role of traits is biased towards studies of plants; 2) we lack evidence of whether the traits of interacting species groups are consistently related across spatial scales; and 3) interactions between species traits and landscape structure are usually ignored.

Summary

The explicit inclusion of landscape structure effects in trait-based approaches at multiple scales will benefit the integration of approaches from community ecology and landscape ecology. This is important for describing the mechanisms that operate simultaneously across scales and for predicting the impact of landscape change on a broad range of ecological responses, including species diversity and interspecific interactions.

Keywords

Environmental change Functional diversity Landscape structure Multi-scale 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This work was supported by an Australian Research Council Discovery Project (DP130100218) and a Colombian Ministry of Education (COLCIENCIAS 529) scholarship to A.F.S.C. Martine Maron is supported by an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship (FT140100516).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.

Supplementary material

40823_2018_31_MOESM1_ESM.docx (41 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 41 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrés Felipe Suárez-Castro
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jeremy S. Simmonds
    • 1
    • 2
  • Matthew G. E. Mitchell
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Martine Maron
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jonathan R. Rhodes
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation ScienceThe University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.School of Earth and Environmental SciencesThe University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia
  3. 3.Institute for Resources, Environment & SustainabilityUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada

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