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Spatial variation in community structure: species, functional and phylogenetic diversity at different scales (COMMSTRUCT)
Start date: May 1, 2014, End date: Aug 20, 2016 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Unifying community ecology and biogeography is essential for the advance of ecological research. Although spatial scale is known to be important to understand community structure, current knowledge on spatial variation of functional and phylogenetic diversity is limited. COMMSTRUCT aims to study how community structure and assembly vary in space across different extents and scales.Community structure can be described through different parameters, from species richness to composition in terms of traits (i.e. trait/functional diversity) or evolutionary units (i.e. phylogenetic diversity). Given that community assembly processes are affected by the functional characteristics of the coexisting species and their phylogenetic relatedness, the simple use of species richness as a measure of structure has important limitations. Thus, this project seeks the following specific objectives: (i) examine the factors affecting large-scale spatial covariation between species, functional and phylogenetic diversity; (ii) characterize cross-scale variations in the functional and phylogenetic structure of communities; (iii) identify environmental factors and other spatially-structured effects that may influence the cross-scale variations in the functional and phylogenetic structure of communities; and (iv) identify the main processes affecting community assembly at different scales. Spatial statistics, partial regressions and null models will be used to pursue these objectives, using data on the distribution of mammals and European dung beetles at different geographical extents and scales.The results of COMMSTRUCT are fundamental for the development of biodiversity science as they will contribute to build up the basis of the theory on how diversity is structured across spatial scales, ultimately bridging the gaps between biogeography, macroecology and community ecology and helping to integrate these fields into a unified framework.
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