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Macroecology in environmental space

English title Macroecology in environmental space
Applicant Graham Catherine
Number 197753
Funding scheme Project funding
Research institution Biodiversität und Naturschutzbiologie Eidg. Forschungsanstalt für Wald, Schnee und Landschaft WSL
Institution of higher education Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research - WSL
Main discipline Ecology
Start/End 01.11.2020 - 31.10.2023
Approved amount 422'240.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Other disciplines of Earth Sciences

Keywords (5)

macro ecology; environmental - geographic space duality; global; tetrapods; environmental conditions

Lay Summary (German)

Catherine Graham, Group Leader in Spatial Evolutionary Ecology
Lay summary
Die Makroökologie versucht, die Faktoren zu identifizieren, welche die grossräumigen Muster des Artenreichtums beeinflussen. Dabei stellt die Makroökologie Fragen wie: Warum gibt es in einigen Regionen der Erde so viele Arten, in anderen aber nicht? Um diese Frage zu beantworten, konzentriert sich dei Makroökologie meist auf den geographischen Raum. Oft wir dabei jedoch auch die mögliche Rolle klimatischer Faktoren, sowie der geologischen Geschichte bei der Akkumulation von Vielfalt untersucht.  Anstatt uns jedoch auf nur auf den geografische Raum zu konzentrieren, um Diversitätsmuster zu verstehen, können wir stattdessen auch die Umweltbedigungen direkt bewerten und fragen, warum es unter bestimmten Umweltbedingungen mehr Vielfalt gibt. Diese Neufokussierung den Umweltraum als solchen wird unterschiedliche Perspektiven auf die Mechanismen liefern, welche die Artenvielfalt auf grossräumiger Ebene bestimmen.  Noch fehlt uns jedoch eine detailiertes Verständniss, um den potenziellen Beitrag eine Refokussierung auf den Umweltraum in der Makroökologie vollständig zu bewerten. In diesem Projekt schlagen wir vor, den Fokus der Makroökologie auf den Umweltraum systematisch weiterzuentwickeln, indem wir eine Reihe grundlegender Fragen in diesem Bereich neu bewerten und erforschen.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 29.09.2020

Responsible applicant and co-applicants


Project partner

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
184131 FutureWeb 01.04.2019 BiodivERsA
173342 The Influence of land-use and elevation gradients on network structure of Ecuadorian hummingbird-plant interactions 01.08.2017 Project funding
199379 Experimental Network Ecology and Restoration (Exper-net) 01.02.2022 SPIRIT


Macroecologists evaluate mechanistic explanations for the broad scale distribution of diversity by identifying emergent and, often statistical, patterns and properties. However, macroecological questions addressing diversity - environment relationships have been studied almost entirely in geographic space, yet most hypotheses are formulated in terms of environmental conditions. The few recent examples that have evaluated patterns directly in environmental space indicate that such refocusing provides different perspectives on the mechanisms driving broad scale patterns of diversity. Yet we lack a rigorous series of studies to fully evaluate the potential contribution of a focus on environmental space in macroecology. Here we propose to systematically develop the study of macroecology in environmental space by re-evaluating and exploring a series of fundamental questions in the field.Our goals are to: 1) develop approaches to create environmental space, both current and through deep time, for addressing macroecological questions, 2) evaluate macroecological hypotheses about the generation and maintenance of species richness and endemism directly in environmental space, and 3) compare insights gained from bidirectional mapping from environmental and geographic spaces (i.e., Hutchinson’s duality). Addressing these goals will allow us to: (i) provide methodological advances for studying macroecology directly in an environmental context; (ii) develop theory by testing fundamental predictions in macroecology and (iii) set the stage for future research in macroevolution and conservation biogeography.The proposed research, although ambitious, is feasible because the all data are available (even though additional cleaning may be required), the proposer and her collaborators have published some of the key papers in the emerging field, and preliminary analyses suggest that the methodological approach is tractable and useful. Further, this proposal will benefit from an on-going research collaboration with Brazilian scientists and students from one of the top ecology programs in Brazil (Departmento de Ecologia, Universidade Federal de Goiás) who are internationally known for their contribution to macroecology and biogeography, in particular.