Trait-based approaches are increasingly seen as a way to reduce the complexity of ecological communities and to incorporate functional diversity in ecosystem models.  In this talk I will present our recent work developing and applying trait-based theory.  First, I will give an overview of trait-based approaches to modeling ecological and eco-evolutionary dynamics and how they can enhance our understanding of community structure and ecosystem functioning.  Then I will give examples of how they can be applied to complex temporally varying systems, including seasonally and directionally changing environments.  Finally, I will describe recent theory on how local selection and immigration from the regional species pool interact to determine distribution of commonness and rarity in ecological communities and an experimental test.

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Christopher Klausmeier is a theoretical ecologist, who uses mathematical and computational models to understand the structure and dynamics of communities and ecosystems, with a particular focus on plants, plankton and other microbes.  He studied Mathematics at Harvey Mudd College (B.S.) and received a Ph.D. in Ecology, Evolution & Behavior from the University of Minnesota, working with David Tilman & Claudia Neuhauser.  Following postdocs at EAWAG (Switzerland) and Princeton University, he was an Assistant Professor at Georgia Tech before moving to Michigan State University's Kellogg Biological Station, where he is now an MSU Research Foundation Professor.  He is also a Visiting Scientist in the Carnegie Institution for Science's Biosphere Sciences & Engineering division.