Does functional homogenization accompany taxonomic homogenization of British birds and how do biotic factors and climate affect these processes?

Hannah J. White, W. Ian Montgomery, Lenka Storchova, David Horak, Jack J. Lennon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
180 Downloads (Pure)


Environmental change has reshuffled communities often causing taxonomic homogenization rather than differentiation. Some studies suggest that this increasing similarity of species composition between communities is accompanied by an increase in similarity of trait composition—functional homogenization—although different methodologies have failed to come to any consistent conclusions. Functional homogenization could have a large effect on ecosystem functioning and stability. Here, we use the general definition of homogenization as “reduced spatial turnover over time” to compare changes in Simpson's beta diversity (taxonomic turnover) with changes in Rao's quadratic entropy beta diversity (functional turnover) in British breeding birds at three spatial scales. Using biotic and climatic variables, we identify which factors may predispose a site to homogenization. The change in turnover measures between two time periods, 20 years apart, was calculated. A null model approach was taken to identify occurrences of functional homogenization and differentiation independent of changes in taxonomic turnover. We used conditional autoregressive models fitted using integrated nested Laplace approximations to determine how environmental drivers and factors relating to species distributions affect changes in spatial turnover of species and functional diversity. The measurement of functional homogenization affects the chance of rejection of the null models, with many sites showing taxonomic homogenization unaccompanied by functional homogenization, although occurrence varies with spatial scale. At the smallest scale, while temperature‐related variables drive changes in taxonomic turnover, changes in functional turnover are associated with variation in growing degree days; however, changes in functional turnover become more difficult to predict at larger spatial scales. Our results highlight the multifactorial processes underlying taxonomic and functional homogenization and that redundancy in species traits may allow ecosystem functioning to be maintained in some areas despite changes in species composition.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7365-7377
Number of pages13
JournalEcology and Evolution
Issue number5
Early online date27 Jun 2018
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2018

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Does functional homogenization accompany taxonomic homogenization of British birds and how do biotic factors and climate affect these processes?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this