center for synthesis
and analysis of biodiversity

A centre created and developed by the FRB
The functional diversity of food webs: linking ecology, physiology and biogeography

Régis Cereghino - Université Paul Sabatier Toulouse III (France)

12 participants: Ignacio Barberis - Facultad de Ciencias Agrarias, Universidad Nacional de Rosario (Zavalla, Argentina) ; Jean-François Carrias - Université Blaise Pascal, (Aubière, France) ; Bruno Corbara - Université Blaise Pascal (Aubière, France) ; Pavel Kratina - School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, Queen Mary University of London (UK) ; Céline Leroy - IRD, CNRS (Kourou, Guyane Française) ; Brian McGill - University of Maine, School of Biology and Ecology (Orono, USA) ; Paula Omena - State University of Campinas (Sao Paolo state, Brazil) ; Fabiola Ospina-Bautista - Universidad de los Andes (Bogota, Colombia) ; Valerio Pillar - Universidad Federal Rio Grande do Sul (Port Alegre, Brazil) ; Gustavo Romero - State University of Campinas (Sao Paolo state, Brazil) ; Diane Srivastava - University of British Columbia (Vancouver, Canada) ; Kurtis Trzcinski - Université Paul Sabatier Toulouse III (France)

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Community ecology has struggled to provide strong predictive models that link environmental drivers with community structure. Greater progress could be made by focussing on the functional traits represented in communities rather than the identities of species. We are specifically missing analyses of trait diversity at large spatial scales where dispersal between sites is rare, so that we cannot determine if functional diversity in general is determined by niche-based processes, or limited by dispersal, evolution, or biogeography. Our focal system (the faunal food web inhabiting water-filled bromeliad leaves) has been sampled from 12 neotropcal regions, and the dataset (ca. 400 taxa; > 600 bromeliads; nine relevant traits; environmental variables) has been collated in an SQL database.

Our fundamental question for a new trait-based paradigm is: which processes determine the functional diversity of food webs at different spatial scales? We ask 3 sub-questions: (i) Are food webs in a single bromeliad non-randomly assembled in terms of functional traits? (ii) Within a site, does the distribution of functional traits change predictably over environmental gradients? and (iii) Is there convergence in the functional structure of food webs over a broad biogeographic range? Based on abundance- or biomass-weighted trait matrices, we will use null models and partial Mantel tests to evaluate functional trait convergence and divergence.

Convergence; food webs; ecosystem functions; community ecology; biogeography; neotropics