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Integrating species traits into species pools

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Despite decades of research on the species-pool concept and the recent explosion of interest in trait-based frameworks in ecology and biogeography, surprisingly little is known about how spatial and temporal changes in species-pool functional diversity (SPFD) influence biodiversity and the processes underlying community assembly. Current trait-based frameworks focus primarily on community assembly from a static regional species pool, without considering how spatial or temporal variation in SPFD alters the relative importance of deterministic and stochastic assembly processes. Likewise, species-pool concepts primarily focus on how the number of species in the species pool influences local biodiversity. However, species pools with similar richness can vary substantially in functional-trait diversity, which can strongly influence community assembly and biodiversity responses to environmental change. Here, we integrate recent advances in community ecology, trait-based ecology, and biogeography to provide a more comprehensive framework that explicitly considers how variation in SPFD, among regions and within regions through time, influences the relative importance of community assembly processes and patterns of biodiversity. First, we provide a brief overview of the primary ecological and evolutionary processes that create differences in SPFD among regions and within regions through time. We then illustrate how SPFD may influence fundamental processes of local community assembly (dispersal, ecological drift, niche selection). Higher SPFD may increase the relative importance of deterministic community assembly when greater functional diversity in the species pool increases niche selection across environmental gradients. In contrast, lower SPFD may increase the relative importance of stochastic community assembly when high functional redundancy in the species pool increases the influence of dispersal history or ecological drift. Next, we outline experimental and observational approaches for testing the influence of SPFD on assembly processes and biodiversity. Finally, we highlight applications of this framework for restoration and conservation. This species-pool functional diversity framework has the potential to advance our understanding of how local- and regional-scale processes jointly influence patterns of biodiversity across biogeographic regions, changes in biodiversity within regions over time, and restoration outcomes and conservation efforts in ecosystems altered by environmental change.

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