Climate change can have various impacts on biodiversity, productivity, and re-circulation of energy and matter in ecosystems. Biodiversity, an important determinant of ecosystem functions, is typically measured in terms of the number of species, comprising the ecosystem, albeit alternative metrics, such as functional trait diversity, can provide an effective quantitative basis to investigate relationships with ecosystem functions. Trait-based approaches have become very common in biodiversity research. Most studies, however, focus on inter-specific trait variations, thus overlooking how intra-specific elements of trait variability (genotypic and phenotypic) affect the community structure and the resulting ecosystem functions.
In this project, we use a combination of monitoring data and mathematical modelling to quantify the impacts of environmental change on inter- and intraspecific aspects of trait diversity and community structure of marine planktonic communities of the tropical Cariaco basin in coastal Venezuela.
Prof. Andrew Barton (Scripps Institution of Oceanography, San Diego, USA)