Daniel Laughlin

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The promise of “trait-based” plant ecology is one of generalized prediction across organizational and spatial scales, independent of taxonomy. This promise is a major reason for the increased popularity of this approach. Here, we argue that some important foundational assumptions of trait-based ecology have not received sufficient empirical evaluation. We(More)
Community assembly involves two antagonistic processes that select functional traits in opposite directions. Environmental filtering tends to increase the functional similarity of species within communities leading to trait convergence, whereas competition tends to limit the functional similarity of species within communities leading to trait divergence.(More)
Most environments harbor large numbers of microbial taxa with ecologies that remain poorly described and characterizing the functional capabilities of whole communities remains a key challenge in microbial ecology. Shotgun metagenomic analyses are increasingly recognized as a powerful tool to understand community-level attributes. However, much of this data(More)
One of ecology's grand challenges is developing general rules to explain and predict highly complex systems. Understanding and predicting ecological processes from species' traits has been considered a 'Holy Grail' in ecology. Plant functional traits are increasingly being used to develop mechanistic models that can predict how ecological communities will(More)
Phenotypic traits and their associated trade-offs have been shown to have globally consistent effects on individual plant physiological functions, but how these effects scale up to influence competition, a key driver of community assembly in terrestrial vegetation, has remained unclear. Here we use growth data from more than 3 million trees in over 140,000(More)
In this review, we examine two new trait-based models of community assembly that predict the relative abundance of species from a regional species pool. The models use fundamentally different mathematical approaches and the predictions can differ considerably. Maxent obtains the most even probability distribution subject to community-weighted mean trait(More)
Manipulating community assemblages to achieve functional targets is a key component of restoring degraded ecosystems. The response-and-effect trait framework provides a conceptual foundation for translating restoration goals into functional trait targets, but a quantitative framework has been lacking for translating trait targets into assemblages of species(More)
We evaluate the predictive power and generality of Shipley's maximum entropy (maxent) model of community assembly in the context of 96 quadrats over a 120-km2 area having a large (79) species pool and strong gradients. Quadrats were sampled in the herbaceous understory of ponderosa pine forests in the Coconino National Forest, Arizona, U.S.A. The maxent(More)
A strategy to increase soil C under pasture-based systems is to increase the root mass inputs or increase rooting depth of plants. Our objective in this study was to measure the seasonal dynamics of root mass and C inputs under two different pasture types (ryegrass-clover vs moderately diverse) that differ in plant diversity and which are commonly used in(More)
PREMISE OF THE STUDY In fire-prone ecosystems, variation in bark thickness among species and communities has been explained by fire frequency; thick bark is necessary to protect cambium from lethal temperatures. Elsewhere this investment is deemed unnecessary, and thin bark is thought to prevail. However, in rain forest ecosystems where fire is rare, bark(More)