University Of Tasmania

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Moving beyond the guild concept: developing a practical functional trait framework for terrestrial beetles

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-18, 07:35 authored by Nicholas Fountain-JonesNicholas Fountain-Jones, Susan BakerSusan Baker, Gregory JordanGregory Jordan

1. New logical and analytical frameworks for studying functional traits have led to major advances in plant and freshwater ecology at local and global scales. The ecological and taxonomic diversity of terrestrial adult beetles (Coleoptera) means that functional trait approaches should have considerable power to illuminate the function not only of these animals but also of the ecosystems in which they occur.

2. Even though the functional trait concept is not new in ecology, it is still plagued with inconsistencies in methodology and terminology. Plant-based studies have shown that an integrated and relatively consistent functional trait approach facilitates comparisons between studies, and allows the full utility and predictive capacity of trait-based approaches to be realised.

3. This review outlines a logical framework for adult beetle functional trait studies using uniform terminology and methodology similar to those used by plant ecologists. Beetle life-history and ecomorphological trait studies are synthesised and it is shown that a combination of both is analogous to the functional trait approach. A general functional trait list for beetles and potential functional links is outlined, as are potential analysis approaches. A consistent functional trait approach, coupled with advances in molecular techniques, has the capability to provide deeper insights into beetle community assembly and how beetles impact ecosystems and will enable worldwide comparisons and predictions to be made.


Australian Research Council

Forestry Tasmania

Forests and Forest Industry Council of Tasmania


Publication title

Ecological Entomology








School of Natural Sciences


Blackwell Publishing Ltd

Place of publication

9600 Garsington Rd, Oxford, England, Oxon, Ox4 2Dg

Rights statement

Copyright 2015 The Royal Entomological Society

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Expanding knowledge in the environmental sciences

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