Despite the disproportionate influence that propagule production, dispersal, seed to seedling recruitment, and vegetative reproduction can have on plant population and community dynamics, progress has been slow in the directed collection of regeneration traits to inform community assembly outcomes.
While seed mass is globally available and linked to growth and reproductive output, there are limits to its explanatory ability. In this essay, we call for expanded efforts to integrate a more diverse set of regeneration traits into community assembly models.
First, we extend an existing community assembly framework to conceptualize regeneration as a series of transitional processes whose outcomes are influenced by abiotic filters, biotic interactions, and species traits. We then briefly review the literature, highlighting filters and traits of demonstrated or theorized importance for each transition. Finally, we place regeneration in the context of existing and emerging modeling approaches in trait-based community assembly, summarizing key areas of progress needed to integrate regeneration traits into these efforts.
Synthesis. By incorporating influential regeneration traits into empirical studies and global databases, we can begin to disentangle regenerative mechanisms underlying community assembly outcomes and enhance rapidly developing models of species’ abundances, distributions, and responses to environmental change.
Larson, J. E. and Funk, J. L. (2016), Regeneration: an overlooked aspect of trait-based plant community assembly models. J Ecol, 104: 1284–1298. doi:10.1111/1365-2745.12613