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Harvard Forest Research Project 2022

  • Title: NEON Beetle traits & Land-Use History
  • Principal investigator: Sydne Record (
  • Institution: Bryn Mawr College
  • Primary contact: Sydne Record (
  • Team members: Benjamin Baiser; Isadora Fluck Essig; Danaiijah Vilsaint
  • Abstract:

    Understanding how biodiversity is impacted by natural and man-made factors is essential for developing
    ecological theory and planning conservation efforts, especially in the face of rapid global changes.
    Biodiversity is thought to be more strongly predicted by biotic drivers (e.g., competition) at local scales
    and by abiotic drivers (e.g., climate) at broader spatial scales, yet this theory has not been sufficiently
    tested from local to continental scales. In addition, natural and man-made disturbances and past land use
    alter expected relationships between these drivers and biodiversity. The overarching hypothesis for this
    proposal is that disturbance history and past land use will have a strong influence on niche overlap, and
    therefore biodiversity at local scales, whereas climate and biogeographic differences should mediate this
    relationship at broader scales. To address this hypothesis, the investigators will leverage the hierarchical
    design of the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON), use NEON data on intraspecific trait
    variation (ITV) and diversity, collect additional measurements from NEON organismal samples, and
    compile and analyze geospatial data on NEON disturbance and land use histories, climate, and
    geodiversity across spatial scales to answer the following research questions:
    (I) How does spatial scale influence body size ITV and its relationship with biodiversity across taxa
    within NEON?
    (II) How is disturbance regime explained by different scales of climate, geodiversity and land cover, and
    past land use across NEON?
    (III) How do relationships among climate, geodiversity and land cover, past land use, disturbance regime,
    and body size ITV explain variation in biodiversity across taxa from local to continental scales?