Biodiversity is associated with a variety of ecosystem functions that have a direct effect on human well-being. We have introduced the concept of dark diversity (absent species in a region that can potentially inhabit a local habitat) in order to elucidate better biodiversity patterns and processes. We now expand the dark diversity concept from taxonomic to phylogenetic, functional and genetic diversity; identify processes that produce observed and dark diversity; elaborate methods to quantify dark diversity, and provide practical tools for biodiversity conservation and invasive species control. We explore the temporal patterns of dark diversity with respect to the phenomena of extinction debt and colonization credit in dynamic plant communities. We focus on plants, but our approach is applicable to all ecosystems and taxonomic groups. Our project will lead to major advances in our understanding of biodiversity patterns and provide vital tools for conservation.
Principal investigator prof. Meelis Pärtel.