To capture assembly processes in a research agenda, we start by analysing probably the world´s largest dataset of of focal plot descriptions, representative for NW-Europe. The analysis will be done across many environments and in both a temporal and a spatial context.
The focus is on differences in functional trait composition (the “trait-environment” approach) between the abstract community species pool and the local community species composition realised from that pool within fixed environmental envelopes (the “island” approach). This will allow to identify ecological patterns of community assembly, i.e. those functional groups that are most frequently encountered in local communities of a certain type and those that are rarely encountered. For a certain environmental envelope, this analysis will rank the occurrence probability of functional groups over time, will identify “forbidden” trait combinations and allow generalisation of individual trait – environment relations.
By comparing the trait composition of local communities with the species pool and its trait combination composed of the inventories of the surrounding grid cells compiled in the floristic databank, we will be able to identify the assembly patterns of communities.