Grime Reviews, Series 3: Phil Grime’s impact on the present and future of plant ecology

Phil Grime on the slope at the Buxton Climate Change Impacts Lab in 2013. Photo: Jason Fridley.

Grime Reviews are a series of Reviews honouring eminent ecologist J. Philip (Phil) Grime, who passed away in April 2021 after a long career that touched on nearly every aspect of plant ecology. The third round of Grime Reviews will revisit Grime’s seminal contributions from an array of modern viewpoints and describe how his ideas helped drive a paradigm shift, from descriptive to functional studies of vegetation that today inform approaches as distinct as habitat restoration and earth system modeling. Grime is perhaps best known for his theory of plant strategies that established a framework of functional types (CSR: competitors, stress-tolerators, ruderals) and paved the way for trait-based plant ecology. He also championed the idea that natural selection, operating on individuals, could nonetheless drive ecosystem processes in predictable ways. Applications of his theories abound across levels of biological organization and many remain hotly debated. For example, plant functional traits drive both community assembly and ecosystem functioning (‘response’ versus ‘effect’ traits), but in different ways that remain poorly understood. Communities respond to environmental change according to their functional traits, but with unclear application to critical global change factors like temperature. Dominant species exert strong control on many ecosystem processes, but the role of community diversity may complement the role of dominants as a reservoir of ecological novelty, and it remains unclear how to maintain the functional roles of rare species. The goal of this review series is to critically evaluate how these and many others of Grime’s contributions have shaped the modern practice of plant ecology, and in so doing highlight new applications and research directions that take Grime’s insights into new frontiers in plant ecological research. For a review of Grime’s scientific legacy, see his Royal Society Memoir

Call for proposals!

We welcome unsolicited submissions that address Phil Grime’s scientific legacy and its application to current and emerging research themes in plant ecology. Submission should follow our Review format as described in our Author Guidelines. If you are interested in contributing please email a brief outline (500 words or less) of your proposed contribution to the Journal’s Assistant Editor by 1st March 2022: admin@journalofecology.org. Questions can be addressed to Reviews Editor Jason Fridley or Guest Editors Xiaojuan Liu and Natalia Perez Harguindeguy.

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