What is Functional Diversity?

Generally, biodiversity is measured by information of presence and abundance of species. However, we can also measure diversity by the function that the species have on the ecosystem, which is called Functional Diversity (FD).

To measure functional diversity we quantify biodiversity by phenotypic differences and traits. FD quantifies the distribution of traits in a community or quantifies how much similarities and differences the species have.

A trait is a well-defined, measurable characteristic of organisms, usually measured at the individual level and used comparatively across species

A trait can be physical (eg. body size, morphology), biochemical (e.g. energetic pathway, presence of secondary metabolites), behavioural (e.g. nocturnal vs. diurnal migration, gregariousness), or temporal (e.g. pelagic duration of larval stage).

Thus, traits determine where a species can live; how species interact with one another or even the contributions of species to ecosystem function,

This view of species as a collection of traits reshapes diversity measurements in ecology and there is a growing sense that by measuring and understanding trait diversity, better conservation and restoration decisions can be made.

Project Goals

1) Identify the functional traits that explain the functional diversity of seamounts and ridge habitats.

2) Select the functional traits that contribute to the ecosystem structure and food-web in the seamounts and ridge habitats.

3) Analyze how functional traits explain species distributions, how they are affected by global change, and implications for ecosystem function.

4) Pinpoint indicators of ecosystem function, and study its use for monitor purposes.

Expected Outcomes

We expect that the results will reveal:

1) How species traits affect ecosystem functions in deep-sea ecosystems (seamount and hydrothermal vent).

2) Whether diverse seamounts and hydrothermal vents can maintain functions during disturbance.

3) Whether seamounts and hydrothermal vents are interconnected.

4) Which traits contribute mostly to the stability of seamount and hydrothermal vent systems.

5) Which traits are more vulnerable to global change (warming, ocean acidification, deoxygenation) and anthropogenic impacts.