Using Functional Traits to Model Annual Plant Community Dynamics

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Metcalfe, H., Milne, A. E., Deledalle, F. and Storkey, J. 2020. Using Functional Traits to Model Annual Plant Community Dynamics. Ecology. 101 (11), p. e03167.

AuthorsMetcalfe, H., Milne, A. E., Deledalle, F. and Storkey, J.

Predicting the response of biological communities to changes in the environment or management is a fundamental pursuit of community ecology. Meeting this challenge requires the integration of multiple processes: habitat filtering, niche differentiation, biotic interactions, competitive exclusion, and stochastic demographic events. Most approaches to this long-standing problem focus either on the role of the environment, using trait-based filtering approaches, or on quantifying biotic interactions with process-based community dynamics models. We introduce a novel approach that uses functional traits to parametrise a process-based model. By combining the two approaches we make use of the extensive literature on traits and community filtering as a convenient means of reducing the parametrisation requirements of a complex population dynamics model whilst retaining the power to capture the processes underlying community assembly. Using arable weed communities as a case study, we demonstrate that this approach results in predictions that show realistic distributions of traits and that trait selection predicted by our simulations is consistent with in-field observations. We demonstrate that trait-based filtering approaches can be combined with process-based models to derive the emergent distribution of traits. While initially developed to predict the impact of crop management on functional shifts in weed communities, our approach has the potential to be applied to other annual plant communities if the generality of relationships between traits and model parameters can be confirmed.

KeywordsArable weeds; Annual plants; Community dynamics; Ecological function; Environmental filtering; Functional diversity; Functional traits; Population dynamics modelling
Year of Publication2020
Journal citation101 (11), p. e03167
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Open accessPublished as ‘gold’ (paid) open access
FunderBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Natural Environment Research Council
Funder project or codeASSIST - Achieving Sustainable Agricultural Systems
S2N - Soil to Nutrition [ISPG]
Publisher's version
Accepted author manuscript
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online26 Aug 2020

Permalink -

145 total views
147 total downloads
1 views this month
0 downloads this month
Download files as zip