This course is focused on applying and interpreting indices of functional trait diversity, and related metrics of community trait structure, a key component of biodiversity that is becoming increasingly important to understand how communities might respond to environmental change and the consequences of these changes for ecosystem functionality.
Functional diversity, the extent of trait differences between organisms, is a multifaceted concept that can be measured in many different ways, leaving ecologists often with technical doubts about which indices to use and how to apply them. We will deal with these doubts, with both real examples from biological communities and simulations and applying all concepts directly with several R scripts accompanying the instructor’s recent book on functional trait tools.
We will consider and learn how to compute and interpret different metrics of trait dissimilarity among organisms, learn how to account for intraspecific trait variability, combine indices of functional trait diversity with indices of phylogenetic diversity, compute functional diversity at different scales (e.g. alpha and beta partitioning of diversity) and learn how to navigate packages created by the instructor’s team (TPD, among others).