Functional trait ecology

A "functional" trait is an organismal characteristic that describes its anatomy, physiology, phenology, or behaviour. Since the inception of trait-based approaches in functional ecology, this term has become a bit of an unquestioned band-wagon in ecology. But which and how are traits exactly functional? To us, demographers, a trait cannot be functional unless it has an impact on the building blocks of a species’ life cycle: survival, development, reproduction, and recruitment.

The SalGo team has shown that previously commonly used traits are not functional across the pool, both in plants and in animals. We are developing hierarchical Bayesian models and comparative approaches through artificial intelligence to examine the role and interactions across metabolomics, biochemical, histological and physiological traits on species’ vital rates.

Cross-Journal special feature

SalGo Team members:

  • Erola Fenollosa
  • Jessie McLean
  • Shruti Moorthy
  • Alice Rosen
  • Rob Salguero-Gómez
  • Rachael Thornley


Selected collaborators:

Selected publications:

Rodriguez-Caro R, Graciá E, Blomberg S, Cayuela H, Grace M, Carmona C, Pérez-Mendoza H, Giménez A, Salguero-Gómez R. 2023. Anthropogenic impacts on threatened species erode functional diversity in turtles and crocodilians. Nature Communications 14, 1542 DOI 10.1038/s41467-023-37089-5

Walker T, Alexander J, Allard P-M, Baines O, Baldy V, Bardgett R, Capdevila P, Coley P, David B, Defossez E, Ernst M, Fernandez C, Forrister D,  Gargallo-Garriga A, Jassey V, Marr V, Neumann S, Pellissier L, Peñuelas J, Peters K, Rasmann S, Roessner U, Sardans J, Schrodt F, Schuman M, Soule A, Uthe H, Weckwerth W, Wolfender J-L, van Dam N* & Salguero-Gómez R*. 2022. Functional traits 2.0 – The power of the plant metabolome for functional ecology. Journal of Ecology 110, 4-20 DOI

Kelly R✧, Healy K, Anand M, Baudraz M, Bahn M, Cerabolini B, Cornelissen J, Dwyer J, Jackson A, Niinemets Ü, Pierce S, Salguero-Gómez R✧, Buckley Y✧. 2021Climatic and evolutionary context are required to infer plant life history strategies from functional traits. Ecology Letters 24, 970-983 DOI 10.1111/ele.13704   ✧Conceived and designed the study

Carmona C, Tamme R, Pärtel M, de Bello F, Brosse S, Capdevila P, González-M R, González-Suárez M, Salguero-Gómez R, Vásquez-Valderrama M & Toussaint A. 2021Mapping extinction risk in the global functional spectra across the tree of life. Science Advances 7, 13 DOI 10.1126/sciadv.abf2675

Pistón N, de Bello F, Dias A, Götzenberger L, de Mattos E, Rosado B, Salguero-Gómez R*, & Carmona C*. 2019. Multidimensional ecological analyses demonstrate how interactions between functional traits shape fitness and life history strategies. Journal of Ecology DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.13190

SalgueroGómez R, Violle C, Gimenez O, Childs D. 2018. Delivering the promises of trait-based approaches to the needs of demographic approaches, and vice versa. Functional Ecology 32, 1424–1435, DOI: 10.1111/1365-2435.13148

Kissling D, Guralnick R, Agosti D, Amengual J, Basset A, van Bodegom P, Bowser A, Cornelissen J, Denny E, Deudero S, Egloff W, Elmendorf S, Alonso García E, Jones K, Jones M, Jones O, Kattge J, Lear D, Navarro L, Pawar S, Pirzl R, Rüger N, Sal S, SalgueroGómez R, Schigel D, Schulz K-S & Skidmore A. 2018. Towards global data products of Essential Biodiversity Variables (EBVs) on species traits. Nature Ecology & Evolution 2, 1531–1540 DOI: 10.1038/s41559018-0667-3

SalgueroGómez R. 2017. Applications of the fast-slow continuum & reproductive strategy framework of plant life histories. New Phytologist 4: 1618-1624 DOI: 10.1111/nph.14289

Adler P, SalgueroGómez R, Compagnoni A, Hsu J, Ray-Mukherjee J, Mbeau-Ache C & Franco M. 2014. Functional traits explain variation in plant life history strategies. PNAS 111, 740745. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1315179111


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