OOS 51
Functional Traits in Ecological Research: What Have We Learned and Where Are We Going?

Wednesday, August 12, 2015: 1:30 PM-5:00 PM
327, Baltimore Convention Center
Matthew E. Aiello-Lammens, Pace University
John A. Silander Jr., University of Connecticut
John A. Silander Jr., University of Connecticut
Traits underlie the functional diversity of communities and ecosystems, shaping an organism's interactions with both its abiotic and biotic environment. The examination of functional traits involves research crossing multiple scales, from the genome to the biome, and multiple disciplines, from ecology to climatology. The last decade has seen an increased emphasis on connecting observed variation of functional traits with variation in environmental conditions. Many studies in community ecology in particular relate species functional traits to environmental conditions to explain observed patterns of community composition and species co-occurrence. Not only has this spurred on interesting ecological studies, but it has also stimulated the development of new analysis methods and techniques. Further, functional trait variation is increasingly studied in ways that help us understand the evolutionary processes yielding that variation. This integration is a major component of many projects funded through the National Science Foundation’s Dimensions of Biodiversity program. Given the increased emphasis on functional traits in recent years, now is an opportune time to examine examples demonstrating what we have learned, as well as to look at where we are going. In this organised oral session we will look at how analyses of functional trait diversity have helped to explain ecological patterns in multiple different biomes in different regions of the world, many of which are areas with high biodiversity and high levels of endemism. Collectively these studies investigate inter- and intra-specific competition, community assembly, local adaptation, and the evolutionary processes yielding functional trait diversity. This session also strives to present a view of what functional trait research can offer in the future. Several of the presentations include novel analysis methods that overcome long-standing challenges to the analysis of functional traits. These methods, in conjunction with insights from previous studies, will help the analysis of functional traits continue to be a valuable tool in ecological research.
1:30 PM
 A method to the madness: Plant trait sampling strategies matter in community ecology
Kelly A. Carscadden, University of Toronto; Benjamin Gilbert, University of Toronto; Marc W. Cadotte, University of Toronto - Scarborough
1:50 PM
 Processes of community assembly in an environmentally heterogeneous, high biodiversity region
Matthew E. Aiello-Lammens, Pace University; Hayley Kilroy Mollmann, University of Connecticut; Cory Merow, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center; Jasper A. Slingsby, South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON); Douglas Euston-Brown, Botanist; John A. Silander Jr., University of Connecticut
2:10 PM
 Functional traits in parallel evolutionary radiations and trait-environment associations in the Cape Floristic Region of South Africa
Nora Mitchell, University of Connecticut; Timothy E. Moore, University of Connecticut; Kent E. Holsinger, University of Connecticut
2:30 PM
 Stomatal behavior and functional leaf traits reflect phylogenetic history in co-occurring congeners
Kerri Mocko, University of Connecticut; Cynthia S. Jones, University of Connecticut
2:50 PM
 Increasing trait-matching with decreasing available resources: Morphological specialization in hummingbird networks
Ben G. Weinstein, Stony Brook University; Catherine Graham, Stony Brook University
3:10 PM
3:20 PM
 Do community-mean trait values reflect optimal strategies? Insights from Puerto Rican forests
Robert Muscarella, Aarhus University; Maria Uriarte, Columbia University
4:00 PM
 Is trait-based ecology functional? A test from a climatically stable biodiversity hotspot
Jasper A. Slingsby, South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON); Adam M. Wilson, Yale University; Matthew E. Aiello-Lammens, Pace University; Cory Merow, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center; Hayley Kilroy Mollmann, University of Connecticut; John A. Silander Jr., University of Connecticut