How to improve scaling from traits to ecosystem processes

Julia Chacón-Labella, Cesar Hinojo-Hinojo, Teresa Bohner, Matiss Castorena, Cyrille Violle, Vigdis Vandvik, Brian J. Enquist

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Scaling approaches in ecology assume that traits are the main attributes by which organisms influence ecosystem functioning. However, several recent empirical papers have found only weak links between traits and ecosystem functioning, questioning the usefulness of trait-based ecology (TBE). We argue that these studies often suffer from one or more widespread misconceptions. Specifically, these studies often (i) conflict with the conceptual foundations of TBE, (ii) lack theory- or hypothesis-driven selection and use of traits, (iii) tend to ignore intraspecific variation, and (iv) use experimental or study designs that are not well suited to make strong tests of TBE assumptions. Addressing these aspects could significantly improve our ability to scale from traits to ecosystem functioning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)228-237
Number of pages10
JournalTrends in Ecology and Evolution
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2023


  • biodiversity effects
  • ecosystem functioning
  • functional traits
  • scaling
  • trait-based ecology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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