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MacroEco: Research fields

by Webmaster - 3 May 2016 ( last update : 14 November 2016 )

Macroecology and metacommunity assembly rules: applications to biodiversity modelling and conservation

Given the contemporary biodiversity crisis, effective conservation strategies that offset the environmental change threats to ecosystem integrity are crucial for maintaining all levels of biodiversity. We urgently need to develop new approaches to conservation planning, integrating traditional (e.g. species richness) and new approaches for the study of biodiversity (functional, phylogenetic) and encompassing several trophic compartments. The development of sound biodiversity scenarios is a prerequisite and thus a major challenge for the scientific community, especially in light of the intergovernmental assessment panel for biodiversity and ecosystem services (IPBES).

Although strong efforts have been devoted to the development of biodiversity models to meet this challenge, there are still objections to their ability to project biodiversity changes in the context of global environmental changes. Indeed, current biodiversity
models rarely incorporate recent advances in ecological and evolutionary theory because scientists are still missing important knowledge on: (i) how biogeographic history and community assembly rules shape species’ ranges and biodiversity patterns and (ii) how these processes interact to drive the response of populations and communities to environmental changes. Although we primarily focus on vegetation as
primary producer and habitat, our theme covers all taxa (from fungi to large mammals), starting from the very local scale (1m plot) to the globe and encapsulating past, current and future times.

The three main objectives and associated methods of our theme are to:

1. Improve our understanding of how history, environmental factors, and processes of species coexistence jointly shape the assembly of communities and ecosystems, and thus biodiversity patterns. This is performed at multiple spatial and temporal scales, using empirical and manipulative approaches and also theoretical modelling.
Scale: from community-plot in the Alps to global biodiversity patterns.
Tools: Transplant experiments, observational studies along gradients, large scale biodiversity data, simulation experiments
Methods: metabarcoding, process-based modelling, diversity-area relationships, meta-community models, network theory (link with Theme 1, 2, 3 & 4).
Keywords: dynamics and structure of meta-communities and ecosystems; functional biogeography, network theory, big data

2. Improve existing modelling tools and foster the development of new biodiversity models and statistical approaches for studies of biodiversity as a function of the temporal, spatial and level of organisation scale considered.
Scale: from community plots in the Alps to global
Methods: development of statistical approaches of multi-trophic biodiversity data from metabarcoding and large-scale biodiversity surveys, development of process based models to simulate biodiversity dynamics at landscape scales, theoretical developments. (link with Theme 2)
Keywords: Theorisation, conceptualisation, model developments, species vs community-levels.

3. Develop more robust quantitative scenarios of biodiversity from the local to the global scale, analyse trade-offs in conservation actions, provide management indications for policy makers and for managers of protected areas.
Scale: Landscape to continental.
Tools: newly developed models from previous objectives, collection of biodiversity data, reserve selection algorithm.
Keywords: Scenarios (global change, disturbance, invasion), conservation (gap analysis, system conservation planning), local actors (Parks, CBNs).

Francesco Ficetola — ficetola.francesco[at]
Sébastien Lavergne — sebastien.lavergne[at]
Wilfried Thuiller — wilfried.thuiller[at]

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