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Functional ecology is a branch of ecology that focuses on the roles, or functions, that species play in the community or ecosystem in which they occur. In this approach, physiological, anatomical, and life history characteristics of the species are emphasized. The term "function" is used to emphasize certain physiological processes rather than discrete properties, describe an organisms role in a trophic system, or illustrate the effects of natural selective processes on an organism. This sub-discipline of ecology represents the crossroads between ecological patterns and the processes and mechanisms that underlie them. It focuses on traits represented in large number of species and can be measured in two ways. The first being screening, which involves measuring a trait across a number of species, and the second being empiricism, which provides quantitative relationships for the traits measured in screening. Functional ecology often emphasizes an integrative approach, using organismal traits and activities to understand community dynamics and ecosystem processes, particularly in response to the rapid global changes occurring in earth’s environment.
Functional ecology sits at the nexus of several disparate disciplines and serves as the unifying principle between evolutionary ecology, evolutionary biology, genetics and genomics, and traditional ecological studies.
- " Towards A Definition Of Functional Ecology On JSTOR ". Jstor.org. N. p., 2017. Web. 2 May 2017.
- Keddy, PA (1992). "A pragmatic approach to functional ecology." (PDF). Functional Ecology. 6: 621–626.
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