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TEEMBIO Report Summary

Project ID: 281422
Funded under: FP7-IDEAS-ERC
Country: France

Final Report Summary - TEEMBIO (Toward Eco-Evolutionary Models for BIODiversity Scenarios)

Global biodiversity is rapidly declining. In the face of this crisis, conservation planning and adaptive management strategies require prognosis of future changes and rely, at least in part, on model-based projections of future biodiversity dynamics. The development of sound biodiversity scenarios is therefore a major challenge for the scientific community. However, for building adequate projection tools that incorporate all crucial ecological and evolutionary processes, scientists are still lacking quantitative knowledge on how biotic interactions and adaptive processes shape species' ranges and patterns of co-existence. This is partly due to the fact that the underlying mechanics of these eco-evolutionary processes and the arising patterns of biodiversity occur at the opposing ends of spatial and temporal scales and have thus rarely been combined in an integrative framework. The task of bridging the gap between local processes and species range dynamics relies on theoretical and empirical approaches from evolutionary ecology and community ecology to extract the processes relevant for higher-scale dynamics and to account for their interactions to generate biodiversity scenarios and associated services.
In order to meet these challenges, the main research objective of the project TEEMBIO are four-fold: (1) improving our understanding of how evolution shapes species ranges; (2) improving our understanding of how community assembly rules shape biodiversity and species ranges; (3) developing a modelling framework that combines the predictive strength of approaches based on eco-evolutionary processes with the ability to deliver projections at large spatial, temporal and organizational scales; and (4) providing more realistic biodiversity scenarios and associated services.
During the first phase of the project, we identified a number of crucial effects of species local adaptation and genetic architecture on the pace of range shifts and species' evolutionary responses to environmental change, based on the newly developed modelling framework ALADYN. Coming from the other end of the scale, we showed that estimated rates of evolutionary adaptation over macroevolutionary time scales can help to predict current increases or declines in population sizes in birds. We also investigated the role played by the cushion life form in the evolution of climatic niches in a particular plant genus and showed that this life form has been a key innovation providing the opportunity to occupy extremely cold environments.
With regard to the second objective, we conducted a large field campaign and additional simulation studies to show how different facets of biodiversity can provide complementary information on the drivers of the community structure. Working at the macroevolutionary scale, we revealed global hotspots of mammalian species, trait and lineage diversity using multifaceted diversity-area relationships. We also investigated patterns of phylogenetic diversity in relation to species diversity for European birds, mammals and amphibians and showed a spatial mismatch of phylogenetic diversity across the three vertebrate groups and protected areas in Europe.
Based on the developments in the two former research fields, we then implemented the novel spatial and temporal mechanistic model of vegetation dynamics Fate-HD. We used Fate-HD to project vegetation dynamics in the Ecrins National Park (French Alps) for one regional climate change scenario and three different management scenarios developed with the park managers. At larger scales, we quantified the sensitivity of the functional structure of European bird assemblages to changes in climate and land cover and showed that the functional structure of species assemblages may change in ways that need to be accounted for in conservation planning. Finally, while new international policy and assessment processes such as the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) recognize the importance of an increasingly global, quantitative, and comprehensive approach to biodiversity protection, most insights are still focused on a single facet of biodiversity - species. In TEEMBIO, we provided a first framework and new quantitative tools to advance these goals for multi-faceted biodiversity conservation. We indeed broaden the focus and provide the first evaluation of how much of the world’s species, functional and phylogenetic diversity for birds and mammals is currently protected and the scope for improvement. Our work showed that large gains in biodiversity protection are possible, while also highlighting the need to explicitly link desired conservation objectives and biodiversity metrics.

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