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WP 2: Scaling biotic processes

(Bill Kunin, Co-ordinator)


The overall aim of WP2 is to improve our understanding of the impacts of environmental pressures on biodiversity at levels from genes to ecosystems and of how they act across spatial and temporal scales. Specifically, the objectives are:

  • To build a database of measured or predicted species traits related to dispersal, habitat utilisation, and other relevant population, community, and functional traits for focal taxa;
  • To develop predictions of the effect of habitat structure and change on the distribution of genetic diversity and adaptive evolutionary potential at multiple scales;
  • To improve the understanding of the density and viability of populations across spatial and temporal scales;
  • To increase the understanding of species diversity, community turnover, species interactions, and community assembly across spatial scales;
  • To develop approaches to the understanding of functional diversity, functional resilience, and ultimately of ecosystem function across spatial scales; and
  • To integrate the above into analyses of the effectiveness of conservation strategies across scales of space and time.

Description of work

WP 2 concerns how natural and anthropogenic environmental changes affect biodiversity across multiple scales. We consider the effects of environmental pressures at levels of biological organisation ranging from genetic diversity within species, through the scaling of populations and their viability, up to the scaling of species diversity and community composition, and ecosystem function. These collectively rely on a database of key species traits, especially dispersal characteristics, and then come together in a more general consideration of the scaling of conservation effectiveness. We will conduct comprehensive (but necessarily low intensity) studies across wide taxonomic groupings and intensive studies of a few focal species as exemplars (and to test the accuracy of the less detailed analyses). The research will focus on birds, amphibians, reptiles, butterflies, carabid beetles, bees, wasps, and vascular plants, allowing us to examine biodiversity scaling for species differing greatly in body size, mobility, and (crucially) in data quality, and to evaluate methods appropriate both for comprehensively mapped taxa and those with less complete distributional data. We do not include scaling of habitat properties in this WP because this will be covered extensively in the recently started EU-project EBONE but we will integrate results from EBONE in WP2.


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