- Functional resistance towards climate-driven extinction

Functional resistance towards climate-driven extinction


Future global biodiversity scenarios predict dramatic species losses for many regions in the world. Since the richness of species differing in characteristics and functions is the basis for the emergence of functional diversity of regional floras, species extinctions may reduce the functional variation of communities and as a consequence lead to impoverished ecosystem functioning. Here we use the last Plio-Pleistocene glaciations as a palaeo-ecological experiment as a large extinction scenario in Europe and North America.

Questions and Hypotheses

Specifically, we ask, whether the climatically directed extinction of tree species – and with this the loss of a particular trait costume in the tree floras – during the last glaciations has led to a reduction of functional diversity of the European tree flora as compared to the North American tree flora.

We hypothesize that a higher species richness in North America will lead to higher functional diversity than in Europe (Hypothesis 1) and that beyond this effect, at any given level of species richness functional richness/dispersion is higher in North America than Europe (Hypothesis 2).

Material and Methods

We used a trait matrix of 26 largely orthogonal traits for 154 North American and 66 European temperate tree species to investigate different facettes of functional diversity as measured by functional diversity indices, PCoA-ordination, convex hull volume, perMANOVA-analyses and kernel density estimations.


This work is performed by Mario Liebergesell

letzte Änderung: 14.01.2015