Although the contribution of community members to functional diversity is a key question of conservation ecology, its measurement and interpretation are rather problematic. In this paper, we suggest a novel method for decomposing functional diversity. To do this we consider functional units (i.e. species or a group of species with identical traits) as the functional building blocks of communities. Then we propose the use of a recently developed measure of functional diversity (called modified functional attribute diversity or MFAD) and suggest additive decomposition of MFAD into functional values contributed by the functional units. We point out that functional values are related to changes in MFAD if the functional unit is removed from the community. This property of decomposition allows the quantification of the contribution of community members to functional diversity. By studying artificial and actual communities we compare the performance of our new method with other recently developed contribution measures, which are based on dendrograms and ordinations. Both theoretical considerations and analyses of artificial and actual data sets suggest that the proposed method of calculating functional values expresses more explicitly the contribution of community members to functional diversity and hereby can be used as a simple, yet efficient method for searching for functional keystones in ecological communities or for quantifying the contribution of community members to functional diversity.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics