Rebuilding community ecology from functional traits

Brian J. McGill, Brian J. Enquist, Evan Weiher, Mark Westoby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2213 Scopus citations

Abstract

There is considerable debate about whether community ecology will ever produce general principles. We suggest here that this can be achieved but that community ecology has lost its way by focusing on pairwise species interactions independent of the environment. We assert that community ecology should return to an emphasis on four themes that are tied together by a two-step process: how the fundamental niche is governed by functional traits within the context of abiotic environmental gradients; and how the interaction between traits and fundamental niches maps onto the realized niche in the context of a biotic interaction milieu. We suggest this approach can create a more quantitative and predictive science that can more readily address issues of global change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)178-185
Number of pages8
JournalTrends in Ecology and Evolution
Volume21
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

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