PerspectiveBIOGEOGRAPHY

Reuniting biogeochemistry with ecology and evolution

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Science  15 Nov 2019:
Vol. 366, Issue 6467, pp. 805-806
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaz9096

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Summary

Biodiversity conservation strategies that adapt to ongoing environmental changes require the ability to predict global biogeographical patterns (1). Research on macroecology—the study of relationships between organisms and their environment at large spatial scales—reports a pressing need for new information on freshwater species, which show exceptionally high declines and extinction rates worldwide (2, 3). The anticipation of changes in the distribution and community composition of freshwater organisms has forced scientists to grapple with a complex puzzle of interwoven ecological and evolutionary processes, including the ability of autotrophic organisms to convert different sources of inorganic carbon to organic compounds (carbon fixation). On page 878 of this issue, Iversen et al. (4) report on a pioneering global analysis of a key functional trait in freshwater plants—the ability to use bicarbonate for photosynthesis—as a function of geochemical properties of water catchments.

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