09.01 - 10.01.2018  
Salt Lake City, USA
Contact person:
Alistair Seddon, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

PAGES' Resistance, Recovery and Resilience in Long-term Ecological Systems (EcoRe3) working group will hold a workshop, titled "Functional paleoecology: Trait gradients across ecological disturbance events" in Salt Lake City, USA, from 9-10 January 2018.


University of Utah
201 Presidents Cir
Salt Lake City, UT 84112, USA


This workshop is limited to 15 participants and requires an application to attend. There will be five spaces available for applications from researchers with expertise in functional ecology/biotic responses to environmental change in the paleo-record.


EcoRe3 is developing methods to measure resistance, recovery and resilience to ecological disturbances in the paleo-record, and to understand the biotic and abiotic controls that result in ecological resilience across biomes. One key biotic component which can mediate the response to disturbance, and therefore determine a system’s resilience, is functional traits. Traits linked to systems that result in fast recovery rates are likely to be different to those responsible for high resistance, but whether general patterns can be observed with regards to (i) the types of traits associated with resistance/ recovery; and (ii) the variations in trait space that determine a system's response remains unclear. By focusing on general functional traits, rather than individual species, it is anticipated that greater predictive power will emerge in response to environmental disturbance and environmental change.

This workshop aims to develop methods to interrogate the fossil record of disturbances in from the perspective of functional traits. Using ecological theory related to metabolic scaling, we make predictions about which traits are related to an ecosystem’s resistance and which to its recovery dynamics. Specific climate and fire related disturbance events in the past will then be selected to test these predictions using fossil data.

Trait-based insights into ecological resilience emerged as an important theme for the working group and a project was initiated based on the discussions during the first EcoRe3 workshop. This workshop is critical for developing thorough ecological theory and statistical approaches related to linking functional traits, resistance, recovery and resilience in the paleoecological record.


The workshop has the following objectives:

Objective 1: Predictions from trait-based metabolic theory
According to ecological theory, how does functional diversity change across disturbance events, and which functional traits are related to resistance, and which traits are related to recovery? Can similar theoretical predictions be made that are scale dependent? (e.g. (on diatoms, chironomids, plants)

Objective 2: Compiling trait data and developing metrics
What methods can be used to match trait data from current databases to palaeoecological data? Which functional traits can be realistically reconstructed, and how can key metrics used in functional ecology (e.g. community-weighted mean) be estimated from palaeoecological data?

Objective 3: Modeling trait variations through time
How do well do the predictions compare when presented with the paleo-ecological data?

There will also be one short session reviewing progress on the outputs of the first two projects initiated at the first workshop.

Key speakers/participants

Workshop organisers:

Dr Jesse Morris (University of Utah, USA, ECR, EcoRe3 Steering Committee)
Dr Lydia Cole (Rezatec Ltd., Harwell, and University of Oxford, Oxford, UK, ECR, EcoRe3 Steering Committee)
Dr Alistair Seddon (University of Bergen, Norway, EcoRe3 Steering Committee)
Prof. Vigdis Vandvik (University of Bergen, Norway, Functional ecology expert, leader of traits project in EcoRe3)

Key participants:

Dr Michael-Shawn Fletcher (University of Melbourne, Australia, EcoRe3 Steering Committee)
Prof. Kathy Willis (Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London and University of Oxford, Oxford, UK, EcoRe3 Steering Committee)
Marc Macias-Fauria (University of Oxford, co-leader in EcoRe3 traits project)


At the end of Workshop 1, four projects were defined for the EcoRe3 group to take forward:

Project 1: Review paper, based on a systematic literature review, which synthesizes the current parameters of palaeoecological data and analysis in the context of disturbance, and proposes new methods for more quantitatively interrogating long-term data to explore the components of resilience. (Project Lead: Jesse Morris; proposed paper submission date: 1 January 2018.)

Project 2: Completing the development and publication of new statistical methods for analyzing palaeoecological data to quantify the resistance and recovery rate of ecosystems to disturbance, in line with the concepts of Hodgson et al. (2015). We are expecting to submit this article by the end of the year. (Project Lead: Alistair Seddon; proposed paper submission date: 1 October 2017.)

Project 3: Completing the development and publication of new statistical methods for analyzing remotely-sensed spatial data of key ecosystem parameters over short-term timescales, i.e. up to 30 years, to address key questions on ecosystem resilience and alternative stable states. (Project Lead: Joe Chipperfield and Marc Macias-Fauria; proposed paper submission date: 1 October 2017.)

Project 4: Development of concepts and techniques for analyzing the importance of functional groups and response traits in palaeoecological data, in determining responses to disturbances and by extension, ecosystem resilience. (Project Lead: Vigdis Vandvik; the focus of Workshop 2.)


Planned products from this workshop include:

- A novel theoretical framework for predicting the impact of ecological traits on the resistance and recovery of ecosystems post-disturbance in the past.
- A method for quantifying the significance of different traits in: (i) determining the response of ecological communities to disturbances, and (ii) the functional traits that are adaptive under different disturbance regimes.
- The outline of a publication detailing the theoretical framework and methods developed during the workshop, along with a schedule for completion.
- A PAGES workshop report.

Further information

Details of how to apply and deadline dates will be made available here as soon as possible.

In the meantime, questions can be directed to Alistair Seddon: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.