|A promising future for integrative biodiversity research: an increased role of scale-dependency and functional biology|Price, S.A.; Schmitz, L. (2016). A promising future for integrative biodiversity research: an increased role of scale-dependency and functional biology. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. Lond. (B Biol. Sci.) 371(1691): 1-9. hdl.handle.net/10.1098/rstb.2015.0228
In: Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences. Royal Society: London. ISSN 0962-8436, more
Functional biology; Scale-dependency; Ecomorphology; Macroevolution
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Studies into the complex interaction between an organism and changes to its biotic and abiotic environment are fundamental to understanding what regulates biodiversity. These investigations occur at many phylogenetic, temporal and spatial scales and within a variety of biological and geological disciplines but often in relative isolation. This issue focuses on what can be achieved when ecological mechanisms are integrated into analyses of deep-time biodiversity patterns through the union of fossil and extant data and methods. We expand upon this perspective to argue that, given its direct relevance to the current biodiversity crisis, greater integration is needed across biodiversity research. We focus on the need to understand scaling effects, how lower-level ecological and evolutionary processes scale up and vice versa, and the importance of incorporating functional biology. Placing function at the core of biodiversity research is fundamental, as it establishes how an organism interacts with its abiotic and biotic environment and it is functional diversity that ultimately determines important ecosystem processes. To achieve full integration, concerted and ongoing efforts are needed to build a united and interactive community of biodiversity researchers, with education and interdisciplinary training at its heart.