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Species have responded to past global changes by shifting their ranges. Ecologists use statistical models, often called niche models, to predict these range shifts. In the process of constructing niche models it is assumed that species distributions can be explained by abiotic (climatic and edaphic) factors alone. That is, the role of biotic processes is ignored. Current practice therefore ignores an important suite of factors that potentially influence species performance and distribution. It could, therefore, be argued that forecasts of future species ranges and associated assessments of future biodiversity distributions are fundamentally flawed.
In the current project we investigate the relative effect of both abiotic and biotic factors on the performance and distribution of plant species. We use Bayesian statistical methods to develop a protocol for predicting how abiotic and biotic aspects of the niche determine species distribution. Specifically, we examine how abiotic conditions and the abundance of competitors influence target species performance at both local and regional scales. A comparison of the local and regional analyses will reveal whether interspecific competition is scale invariant. In a final analysis we will assess whether easy to measure plant functional traits can be used as proxies for the competitive pressure plant assemblages exerted on target species. This framework will improve our capacity to make reliable predictions of species' range shifts and will improve the quality of assessments of the effects of global change on biodiversity.

Former Members:

Prof. Dr. Steven Higgins
Anna Golinko


Knapp, S., Kühn, I., Bakker, J., Kleyer, M., Klotz, S., Ozinga, W., Poschlod, P., Thompson, K., Thuiller, W. & C., Römermann (2009) : Landsman or urbanite - how species traits and affinity to urban land-use control plant species frequency. - Diversity and Distributions 15, 533-546.

Öster, M., Ask, K., Römermann, C., Tackenberg, O. & O. Eriksson (2009) : Plant colonization of ex-arable fields from adjacent species-rich grasslands: The importance of dispersal vs. recruitment ability. - Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 130: 93–99.

Ozinga, W.A., Römermann, C., Bekker, R.M., Prinzing, A., Tamis, W.L.M., Schaminée, J.H.J., Hennekens, S.M., Thompson, K., Poschlod, P., M. Kleyer, M., Bakker, J.P. & J.M. van Groenendael (2009) : Dispersal failure contributes to plant losses in NW Europe. - Ecology Letters 12: 66-74.

Römermann, C., Bernhardt-Römermann, M., Kleyer, M. & P. Poschlod (2009) : Substitutes for grazing in semi-natural grasslands- represent mowing or mulching valuable alternatives to maintain vegetation dynamics? - Journal of Vegetation Science 20: 1086-1098.

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