Moretti, M., Dias, A.T.C., de Bello, F., Altermatt, F., Chown, S.L., Azcárate, F.M., Bell, J.R., Fournier, B., Hedde, M., Hortal, J., Ibanez, S., Öckinger, E., Sousa, J.P., Ellers, J. & Berg, M.P. (2017) Handbook of protocols for standardized measurement of terrestrial invertebrate functional traits. Functional Ecology, 31, 558-567. doi:10.1111/1365-2435.12776

  1. Trait-based approaches are increasingly being used to test mechanisms underlying species assemblages and biotic interactions across a wide range of organisms including terrestrial arthropods and to investigate consequences for ecosystem processes. Such an approach relies on the standardized measurement of functional traits that can be applied across taxa and regions. Currently, however, unified methods of trait measurements are lacking for terrestrial arthropods and related macroinvertebrates (terrestrial invertebrates hereafter).
  2. Here, we present a comprehensive review and detailed protocol for a set of 29 traits known to be sensitive to global stressors and to affect ecosystem processes and services. We give recommendations how to measure these traits under standardized conditions across various terrestrial invertebrate taxonomic groups.
  3. We provide considerations and approaches that apply to almost all traits described, such as the selection of species and individuals needed for the measurements, the importance of intraspecific trait variability, how many populations or communities to sample and over which spatial scales.
  4. The approaches outlined here provide a means to improve the reliability and predictive power of functional traits to explain community assembly, species diversity patterns and ecosystem processes and services within and across taxa and trophic levels, allowing comparison of studies and running meta-analyses across regions and ecosystems.
  5. This handbook is a crucial first step towards standardizing trait methodology across the most studied terrestrial invertebrate groups, and the protocols are aimed to balance general applicability and requirements for special cases or particular taxa. Therefore, we envision this handbook as a common platform to which researchers can further provide methodological input for additional special cases.