DarkDivNet is a global network to explore the dark diversity of plant communities.
Why are some species present and others absent in a locality? To answer this central ecological and biogeographical question, we have to explore biodiversity at different spatial scales while also considering species’ habitat preferences. Only a subset of all species in a region can tolerate the ecological conditions of a given site (the site-specific species pool). Of those, not all are realized in local communities. The absent part of the species pool forms the dark diversity of a community.
Why dark diversity?
If we know the size and composition of dark diversity, we are better equipped to understand and protect biodiversity. Information about the dark diversity allows:
- to estimate site relative diversity: how many suitable species are present compared to those that are absent (community completeness)
- to compare of diversity across regions and habitat types
- to detect processes shaping species presences and absences
- to evaluate the conservation value and restoration potential
In the last years, several coordinated global samplings have advanced our understanding of global biodiversity patterns. DarkDivNet is a global collaboration of researchers interested in dark diversity. It includes globally replicated vegetation surveys comprising both local and regional scales with the main aims:
- to determine observed and dark diversity, species pool and community completeness, and link them to geographical and environmental gradients, anthropogenic disturbance, and interactions with soil biota (sampled with eDNA)
- to test different methods to predict dark diversity
- to evaluate whether locally collected empirical information on species co-occurrences can be substituted by the use of available large vegetation databases
- to expand the dark diversity concept from purely taxonomy-based approaches to include the functional and phylogenetic aspects of diversity.
DarkDivNet is currently open to add new participants from all over the world. Read the protocols about guidelines for participation, the sampling methods, and the publication plan from the webpage. We devise that DarkDivNet will result in several major publications.
The network is coordinated by the Steering Committee of researchers at the University of Tartu: Meelis Pärtel, Carlos P. Carmona, Martin Zobel, Mari Moora, Kersti Riibak, Riin Tamme. The network activities are advised by a panel of international experts: Jon Bennett (Canada), Milan Chytrý (Czechia), Ove Eriksson (Sweden), Susan Harrison (United States), Rob Lewis (Denmark), Angela Moles (Australia), Maarja Öpik (Estonia), Jodi Price (Australia)
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