StrateGo kicks off @ the 39th New Phytologist symposium in Exeter, UK

Today is a pretty exciting day. The StrateGo network is being officially introduced worldwide at the 39th New Phytologist symposium on “Trait covariation: Structural and functional relationships in plant ecology”. This symposium takes place in Exeter, UK, and has attracted over 120 researchers, ranging from established researchers to very dynamic early career researchers, from all over the globe to talk about the latest development in plant trait ecology.

The main emphasis of this three-day mini-conference is on outlining the state of the art in the methods, data (current and required for the future) and results summarising how plant trait variation limits or promotes species diversity and functioning. One of the aspects that was mentioned repeatedly already from the first day is how to link trait information to fitness measures. This is precisely at the core of the set of hypotheses that the StrateGo Network aims to address (poster below).

The poster of the presentation is found below, and the associated flash-talk presentation can also be downloaded here: Salguero-Gomez Flash talk – StrateGo network

StrateGo low res

The high-resolution version of the poster can be downloaded here: Salguero-Gomez New Phytol Exeter symp FINAL

I hope that as many of you as possible will join the network. The protocols for plant trait and vital rate information (i.e. demographic information on annual censuses) are being finalised, and will soon be made available in this website. The sampling of functional trait data and vital rate information at the same plots and for the same species, potentially worldwide, will start in the summer Northern hemispheric. The fieldwork in total is expected to take about 2-3 days of fieldwork for a person a year.

If you are interested in joining the network, please contact me at StrateGoNetwork@gmail.com, and follow us in twitter @StrateGoNetwork!

Rob Salguero-Gómez

StrateGo Network

Advertisements

Welcome to StrateGo!

screen-shot-2016-10-14-at-16-55-16

Welcome to the StrateGo network!

StrateGo is a network of field ecologists and macro-ecologists interested in making robust population predictions for species invasions and local extinctions in the light of stochastic environments and tangible threats like human actions and climate change.

Large datasets that would allow for the inference of demographics from individual-level key traits (i.e. functional traits) exist (e.g. TRY, Kew Gardens, BIEN, D3, etc). However, the consequent species-specific geographic overlap between functional trait databases and demographic databases (below) is rather limited. In many cases, the sites where the demography and the functional traits of a given species are examined are hundreds of kilometres away. Due to microhabitat, abiotic and biotic spatial heterogeneity, inferring properties of a population such as its growth rate, degree of resilience, or its underlying governing demographic processes (elasticities of population growth rate to survival, growth or reproduction), although possible (Figure 1), has presented some correlations of relatively low predictive power

Screen Shot 2016-10-14 at 16.58.35.png

Figure 1. In a publication by Adler, Salguero-Gómez et al. (PNAS 2014), we showed for the first time that key functional traits such as seed mass, wood density, specific leave area and leave Nitrogen content may be used to predict the relative importance of demographic processes of plants worldwide. However, the adjusted R2 of these models, that is its predictive power, were rather low (0.08-0.30). This is likely due to the fact that functional trait data and demographic data come from faraway locations for most species.

The solution that StrateGo presents to build more robust predictive demographic models is to bridge the geographic gap between functional ecology and population ecology by collecting functional traits (e.g. seed mass, specific leave area, metabolic rate, photosynthetic rate, body mass, etc.) of species at the same locations where demographic data for thousands of species worldwide have already been collected in the following repositories:

Screen Shot 2016-10-14 at 17.21.27.png

Figure 2. GPS coordinates by taxonomic Kingdom and major ecoregion around the globe for which demographic information exist for the COMPADRE and COMADRE databases.

The protocol for functional trait data collection is currently under development, and a grant to seed the initial foundation of StrateGo is also under review. Functional trait data collection is planned for late 2017. Researchers interested in joining the network can contact the StrateGo leader, Dr Roberto Salguero-Gómez (r.salguero AT sheffield.ac.uk)