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Project finished in 2019


The functional diversity of food webs: linking ecology, physiology and biogeography


Trait-based ecology recasts community ecology’s central question about species coexistence as: which processes determine the functional trait composition of ecological communities? Spatial scale is implicit in this question, as different processes are expected to act at different scales.


Community ecology has struggled to provide predictive models that link environmental drivers with the structure of biological communities. Greater progress could be made by focussing on the functional traits of species (their physiological, biological and ecological attributes), rather than on their identities. 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 constrained local resources or limited by dispersal, evolution, or biogeography.


FuntionalWebs focal system (the invertebrates inhabiting water-filled bromeliad leaves) has been sampled from 22 neotropical locations, and the dataset (850 taxa; 1750 bromeliads; 12 traits; environmental variables) has been collated in an SQL database. The working group’s fundamental question was: which processes determine functional community structure at different spatial scales?


FuntionalWebs asked 3 sub-questions:

  • Are invertebrate communities in a single bromeliad non-randomly assembled in terms of functional traits?
  • Within a site, does the distribution of functional traits change predictably over environmental gradients?
  • Is there convergence in the functional structure of communities over a broad biogeographic range ; alternatively, does functional community structure primarily depend on biogeographic regions?


More information

FunctionalWebs brings together experts in community ecology, biogeography and macroecology.



Régis CEREGHINO – University Paul Sabatier Toulouse III (France)



Andrew MACDONALD – University Paul Sabatier Toulouse III (France)



Ignacio BARBERIS – Universidad Nacional de Rosario (Argentina); Bruno CORBARA – University Blaise Pascal (France); Vanderlei DEABASTIANA – Universidad Federal Rio Grande do Sul (Brazil); Melissa GUZMAN – University of British Columbia (Canada); Pavel KRATINA – Queen Mary University of London (UK); Céline LEROY – IRD, CNRS (Guyane Française); Paula OMENA – State University of Campinas (Brazil); Fabiola OSPINA-BAUTISTA – Universidad de los Andes (Colombia); Valerio PILLAR – Universidad Federal Rio Grande do Sul (Brazil); Gustavo ROMERO – State University of Campinas (Brazil); Diane SRIVASTAVA – University of British Columbia (Canada); Kurtis TRZCINSKI – University Paul Sabatier Toulouse III (France).


Marino NAC, Céréghino R, Gilbert B, Petermann J, Srivastava DS, de Omena PM, Ospina Bautista F, Farjalla VF, Guzman LM, Romero GQ, Trzcinski MK, Barberis IM, Corbara B, Debastiani VJ, Dézerald O, Kratina K, Leroy C, MacDonald AAM, Montero G, Pillar VD, Richardson BA, Richardson MJ, Talaga S, Gonçalves AZ, Piccoli GCO & Jocqué M (2019) Species niches, not traits, determine abundance and occupancy patterns: A multi-site synthesis. Global Ecology and Biogeography, accepted.


de Omena PM, Srivastava DS & Romero GQ (2019) Consumptive effects and mismatch in predator–prey turnover rates cause inversion of biomass pyramids. Oecologia, accepted. doi: 10.1007/s00442-019-04394-0.


Céréghino R, Pillar VD, Srivastava DS, de Omena PM, MacDonald AAM, Barberis IM, Corbara B, Guzman LM, Leroy C, Ospina Bautista F, Romero GQ, Trzcinski MK, Kratina P, Debastiani VJ, Gonçalves AZ, Marino NAC, Farjalla VF, Richardson BA, Richardson MJ, Dézerald O, Gilbert B, Petermann J, Talaga S, Piccoli GCO, Jocqué M & Montero G (2018) Constraints on the functional trait space of aquatic invertebrates in bromeliads. Functional Ecology32, 2435–2447. doi: 10.1111/1365-2435.13141.