Research Topic

Functional Traits as Indicators of Past Environmental Changes

About this Research Topic

Paleoecology is increasingly using various novel avenues to explore past environmental change, and then better predict future ecosystem changes. Most quantitative paleoecological reconstructions are based on the analysis of the relative abundance of different taxa that are regarded as a proxy for past ...

Paleoecology is increasingly using various novel avenues to explore past environmental change, and then better predict future ecosystem changes. Most quantitative paleoecological reconstructions are based on the analysis of the relative abundance of different taxa that are regarded as a proxy for past conditions. Simultaneously, calibration data sets are used to infer past environmental variables such as water table and temperatures. In recent years, pioneering studies in paleoecology have begun to provide valuable insights into the past functional diversity patterns of plants (e.g. using pollen and plant macro-remains) and soil organisms (e.g. testate amoebae, diatoms, and chironomids). This new approach has offered more insight into the value of paleoecological archives and brought new angles for studying the long-term response of ecosystem functions to past climate changes and human impacts.

Trait-based approaches have been extensively used to study ecosystem properties in various ecotypes. Here, we would like to expand this knowledge to paleoecology, as we believe the paleo-functional trait-based approach will provide a new paleoecology branch that can be used in various studies to complete the classical qualitative and quantitative inferences. Across the fossil records, species appear and disappear through environmental filtering, but certain traits remain regardless of which species carries the trait. Thus, if we want to understand how current climate changes influence species and their functions over long time scales, focusing on functional traits is of paramount importance for gaining insight. This approach will allow us to 1) build hypotheses for past and/or future processes and patterns based on different taxa and models and 2) use the fossil record to test the strengths and weaknesses of different modeling approaches in predicting biodiversity patterns in response to current and future climate changes.

This Research Topic aims to strengthen the latest global paleoecological research using functional traits of various taxonomic groups. We welcome original approaches including reconstructions connected with global climate changes or environmental disturbances, such as deforestation, drainage or pollution. We intend to collect papers from paleoecologists, but also from ecologists working on long time series to decipher community-assembly rules. This Research Topic is expected to provide exceptional contributions to paleoecology in terms of studies of the Anthropocene, forest management, peatlands conservation, paleoclimatology, ecosystem ecology, carbon fluxes, biogeochemistry, and biogeography.

Potential topics include, but are not limited, to the following:

• Climate change in the Holocene and interglacials
• Plant succession in wetlands and peatlands
• Environmental pollution
• Ecosystem disturbance and ecological restoration
• Ecosystem regime shifts, resilience, resistance and degradation
• Palaeohydrological changes in peatlands
• Forest disturbance and forestry development

We welcome the submission of original research or review articles in different spatial and temporal scales based on field observation, paleoecological inferences, and modeling.


Keywords: traits, macro- and micro-fossils, functional diversity, tipping points, ecosystem shifts, paleoecology


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

31 July 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

31 July 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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