Trait-Based Assessments of Climate-Change Impacts on Interacting Species

Plant–animal interactions are fundamentally important in ecosystems, but have often been ignored by studies of climate-change impacts on biodiversity. Here, we present a trait-based framework for predicting the responses of interacting plants and animals to climate change. We distinguish three pathways along which climate change can impact interacting species in ecological communities: (i) spatial and temporal mismatches in the occurrence and abundance of species, (ii) the formation of novel interactions and secondary extinctions, and (iii) alterations of the dispersal ability of plants.

- Scene from the film Annihilation

These pathways are mediated by three kinds of functional traits: response traits, matching traits, and dispersal traits. We propose that incorporating these traits into predictive models will improve assessments of the responses of interacting species to climate change.


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