From models of species distributions to models of communities

Prof. Miguel Araujo

Climate and land use changes are leading to alterations in the distributions of species and the composition of assemblages. Most current models focus on species distributions, especially those concerned with animals, but there is a growing interest in how environmental changes might affect ecosystems and their associated services to society. However, scaling up from single species to ecosystems is not trivial since detailed multi-species distributions models are prone to chaotic dynamics, whereby small changes in the models can cause massive changes in the predictions. I will discuss some of the problems associated with modelling individual species and propose alternative approaches, using species distributions and auxiliary trait data, to model the general properties of communities and ecosystems and how they might respond to environmental changes.