The stability and composition of communities are threatened with the intensifying of human impact on biodiversity. A crucial challenge of the next years will be to conserve biodiversity under climate changes. Biodiversity modelling can be used to help establish conservation schemes, and to predict future patterns of biodiversity under global change.
To date, most biodiversity modelling approaches have not accounted for real community assembly processes, or failed to capture different ecological theories. We need to make one step forward by improving existing models and developing new ones that permit to better account for community processes. Such improvements may allow more realistic projections.
An important ongoing debate is whether environmental constraints limit the number of species that can coexist in a community (saturation), with recent findings suggesting that species richness in many communities may be unsaturated.
In a recent publication in the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution, we suggest different promising advances for incorporating into biodiversity models. Here, we suggest that communities may both be unsaturated and yet inherently constrained in their composition/diversity by various drivers (i.e., ecological, evolutionary, historical or biological). Biodiversity modelling approaches therefore need to deal with these two dimensions – unsaturation and constraints – simultaneously.
This publication is the result a Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship within the 7th European Community Framework Programme (ACONITE: Assessment of Carrying capacity cONcept for specIes richness in planT assEmblages)