Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek - NWO
In community formation, the assembly of entering species and extant species can take different directions, depending on the functional traits of the interacting species, the size of the landscape species pool, and the assembly rules that operate given a specific entering sequence. The assembly of local communities also depends on dispersal of multiple interacting species in a metacommunity on the landscape scale. The interplay between trait composition of extant communities, traits of entering species and spatiotemporal metacommunity configuration needs to be understood for predicting functional biodiversity. Predictions for metacommunity dynamics are available, but empirical evidence and generalisation based on functional trait composition are lacking. The main objective of ASSEMBLE is to understand the rules that govern the assembly of local plant communities from the species available in fragmented landscapes, based on functional traits, with a focus on generalisations across particular systems. ASSEMBLE will search for generalities in community formation after mapping functional traits to large range to plant community data from different regions of NW-Europe. The temporal axis of community assembly will be understood from time series analyses where species dynamics are explained by functional trait combinations. The spatial axis of community assembly will be understood from incidence analysis of plants in a metacommunity, explained by the spatiotemporal arrangement of local communities. Finally, sowing experiments will test assembly rules found in the observational studies. These experiments will test whether species immigration success will depend more on similar or dissimilar trait composition of the resident community. All analyses search for functional trait responses. Individual analyses of partners will be synthesised to find general assembly processes across ecological differences in various European landscapes.