Journal article

Where do functional traits come from? The role of theory and models

Michael R Kearney, Marko Jusup, Melodie A McGeoch, Sebastiaan ALM Kooijman, Steven L Chown



The use of traits is growing in ecology and biodiversity informatics, with initiatives to collate trait data and integrate it into biodiversity databases. A need to develop better predictive capacity for how species respond to environmental change has in part motivated this focus. Functional traits are of most interest—those with a defined link to individual survival, development, growth and reproduction. Non-trivial challenges arise immediately in deciding which functional traits to prioritise and how to characterise them. Here we discuss the advantages of a theoretical perspective for defining functional traits in the context of dynamical systems models of energy and mass exchange that lin..

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University of Melbourne Researchers