Role of local evolutionary history on tropical forest diversity and functioning

Durée : 2021 - 2022
Programme : British Ecological Society
Portée : Internationale

Over the past couple of decades, functional ecology has increasingly been used to understand and predict the structure and functioning of plant communities. Plants traits reflect a combination of evolutionary and ecological processes. As such, plant traits can be used to better understand community assembly processes across biological (from molecules to biomes), spatial (from μm to thousands of km), and temporal (from seconds to millions of years) scales. When crossing across scales, much effort has been directed to link biodiversity and ecosystem function via functional traits, but it remains unclear how evolutionary factors impact the relationships between species traits, community assembly and ecosystem functioning. Building on a unique dataset across the Neotropics and Palaeotropics, we will perform an in-depth analysis to decipher the role of evolutionary factors on plant community composition and ecosystem net primary productivity. This information will help on predicting the vulnerability of tropical ecosystems to global change. It will also allow to identify taxonomic clades that may be most resilient to changes in climate and disturbance regimes, with potential for informing future restoration practices in the tropics. With 2021 being the first year for the UN decade of restoration, this study will provide novel and timely knowledge to help restoring degraded or altered tropical forest ecosystems with suitable native species.


  • University of Oxford