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Published December 01, 2021
How are ecological communities assembled from species pools? This pressing question underlies a broad array of practical problems in ecology and environmental science, including the restoration of damaged landscapes, management of protected areas and protection of threatened species.
A new book, titled “A Framework for Community Ecology: Species Pools, Filters and Traits,” that explores this question was co-written by Daniel Laughlin, an associate professor in the University of Wyoming Department of Botany and director of the Global Vegetation Project. The book, published by Cambridge University Press, will be released Dec. 9 in Europe. The book is targeted to students and researchers working with ecological communities and to spark discussions in graduate-level seminars.
“The book presents a simple, logical structure for ecological assembly and addresses key areas, including species pools, traits, environmental filters and functional groups,” Laughlin says. “The book demonstrates the use of two predictive models and consists of many wide-ranging examples, including plants in deserts, wetlands and forests; and communities of fish, amphibians, birds, mammals and fungi.”
Global in scope, the book covers the arid lands of North Africa to Himalayan forests to the Amazon floodplains. The book has a strong focus on applications, particularly the twin challenges of conserving biodiversity and understanding community responses to climate change.
Laughlin’s research focuses on developing quantitative approaches to understand and predict how plant species and communities respond to global change. His lab develops trait-based models that translate ecological processes into statistical frameworks to predict how communities assemble along environmental gradients and how species interact at local scales.
Paul Keddy, the book’s other co-author, is an independent researcher who has taught community ecology for more than 30 years. Keddy conducted award-winning research on environmental factors controlling plant communities and their manipulation to enhance native biodiversity.