Macroecological studies of long-term historical constraints on functional diversity and ecosystem functioning across continents

Funder: European Research Council

Dimensions: grant.3798667




  1. (1) Aarhus University, grid.7048.b, AU

Research Organisations






"Earth’s environment is ongoing massive changes with strong impacts on ecosystems and their services to human societies. It is thus crucial to improve understanding of ecosystem functioning and its dynamics under environmental change. I propose to do this by assessing the novel hypothesis that ecosystem functioning is subject to long-term constraints mediated by biodiversity effects and driven by past climate change and other historical factors. If supported, we will have to rethink ecosystem ecology, as traditionally ecosystem functioning is understood as the outcome of contemporary environmental drivers and their interplay with dominant species. I will employ an unconventional macroecological approach to ecosystem ecology to investigate this hypothesis for major organism groups and ecosystems across continents, modeling effects of historical factors such as past climate change. My specific objectives are to assess if and how (1) large-scale patterns in functional diversity of a key producer group, vascular plants, and (2) a key consumer group, mammals, are affected by historical factors; (3) if and how plant and mammal functional diversity are linked, and, if such links exist, how and to what extent they are shaped by historical factors; (4) if and how large-scale patterns in vegetation-related ecosystem functioning are shaped by historical factors; (5) if ecosystem functioning is linked to diversity of plants and mammals, and if such links exist, if they are shaped by historical factors; and finally (6) directly translate my findings into a novel framework for predicting spatiotemporal dynamics of ecosystem functioning that accounts for historical constraints. The project relies on extensive geospatial data now available on ecosystem functioning, species distributions, and functional traits as well as on paleodistributions, phylogenies, paleoclimate, environment, and human impacts, in combination with advanced statistical and mechanistic modeling."

Resulting publications

NORA University Profiles

Aarhus University

Funding information

Funding period: 2013-2017

Funding amount: EUR 1499930

Grant number: 310886

Research Categories

Main Subject Area