About this Research Topic
Forests are experiencing rapid changes as a result of global change. Functional analyses may be useful indicators of disturbance effects on forests, even where community composition or diversity are modified only marginally. In this sense, functional traits offer the potential for advanced warning of forest changes because they can be used to detect disturbance impacts before species loss and extinctions occur. Then, if the link between trait combinations and sensitivity to disturbance could be assessed accurately, a predictive ecology of global change may be developed that can anticipate which species (and functions) will be reduced, remain stable or will become dominant. With this kind of knowledge, scientists can actively propose successful policies for biodiversity management and conservation that will not merely be reactive.
In a world where most forests are rapidly changing or even disappearing, we need clear and accurate insights into the way that forest populations, communities and ecosystems are changing and what the future may hold for them. As functional approaches offer a basis for detecting changes that are independent of taxonomic structures or biological richness, there is potential for functional ecology to become a valuable lens through which impacts related to global change are detected and interpreted. In this sense, we need to develop a functional framework capable of: 1) accurately relating functional traits/performance to the vulnerability and capacity for recovery of forest populations, communities, and ecosystems, and 2) explaining how functional traits explain species’ damage and recovery. The detection and comprehension of these relationships would allow us to accurately identify predictors of the impact and response of forests to global change, as well as to evaluate the success of management and conservation policies in an efficient way.
This Research Topic aims to provide a platform for new empirical research and the development of theoretical frameworks that advance our knowledge about the relationships between functional traits and the vulnerability and/or capacity for recovery of forest populations (plants, animals, fungi, bacteria, etc.), communities and ecosystems. For this Topic, functional traits are taken to include any morphological, biochemical, physiological, structural, phenological, or behavioral characteristics that are relevant to the response of organisms to the environment and/or their effects on ecosystem properties. Particularly welcome are studies that go deep into functional mechanisms and that are capable of identifying accurate predictors of forest damage and recovery from natural or anthropogenic disturbances—or ideally, the combination of both, reflecting the characteristics of the Anthropocene. Given your recognized expertise in this area of knowledge, we cordially invite you to contribute a manuscript on your work to this forthcoming Research Topic.
Keywords: Functional Analysis, Functional Ecology, Forest Populations, Forest Damage, Anthropogenic Disturbances
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.