Species traits, roles and ecosystem services

We are looking for relationships between species' traits (e.g., body size, metabolic category) and their roles in a set of well-resolved marine networks.

Despite recent advances in understanding patterns in the structure of ecological networks, we are only beginning to understand how these structures are related to the traits of species that make up each community. Traits such as body size are known to structure pairwise interactions between species, so it is reasonable to expect these relationships between traits and interactions to scale up to species' overall roles.

Taking the logic connecting species’ traits and their network roles one step further, both species' traits and the roles they fill within their communities should affect the ecosystem services (e.g., food production, water filtration) they provide. This project is still in development, but our end goal is to link any information we have about species' traits, network roles, and contribution to ecosystem services so that we can fill in gaps in our knowledge and predict how ecological networks, particular species, and ecosystem services will respond to threats such as climate change or management interventions such as habitat restoration. The Baltic Sea offers one excellent case study for investigating the connections between species, the services they offer, and the threats they face (see above). This project, however, considers a wider variety of habitats (including grasslands and forests as well as marine environments) and services (e.g., pollination, fire prevention) than those included in the Baltic Sea research topic.

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