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DIVERSITAS publication: The emergence and promise of functional biogeography

A bioDISCOVERY publication from Violle et al. in PNAS.


Understanding, modeling, and predicting the impact of global change on ecosystem functioning across biogeographical gradients can benefit from enhanced capacity to represent biota as a continuous distribution of traits. However, this is a challenge for the field of biogeography historically grounded on the species concept. Here we focus on the newly emergent field of functional biogeography: the study of the geographic distribution of trait diversity across organizational levels. We show how functional biogeography bridges species-based biogeography and earth science to provide ideas and tools to help explain gradients in multifaceted diversity (including species, functional, and phylogenetic diversities), predict ecosystem functioning and services worldwide, and infuse regional and global conservation programs with a functional basis. Although much recent progress has been made possible because of the rising of multiple data streams, new developments in ecoinformatics, and new methodological advances, future directions should provide a theoretical and comprehensive framework for the scaling of biotic interactions across trophic levels and its ecological implications.

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