Movement-mediated community assembly and coexistence

Ulrike E. Schlägel*, Volker Grimm, Niels Blaum, Pierluigi Colangeli, Melanie Dammhahn, Jana A. Eccard, Sebastian L. Hausmann, Antje Herde, Heribert Hofer, Jasmin Joshi, Stephanie Kramer-Schadt, Magdalena Litwin, Sissi D. Lozada-Gobilard, Marina E.H. Müller, Thomas Müller, Ran Nathan, Jana S. Petermann, Karin Pirhofer-Walzl, Viktoriia Radchuk, Matthias C. RilligManuel Roeleke, Merlin Schäfer, Cédric Scherer, Gabriele Schiro, Carolin Scholz, Lisa Teckentrup, Ralph Tiedemann, Wiebke Ullmann, Christian C. Voigt, Guntram Weithoff, Florian Jeltsch

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Organismal movement is ubiquitous and facilitates important ecological mechanisms that drive community and metacommunity composition and hence biodiversity. In most existing ecological theories and models in biodiversity research, movement is represented simplistically, ignoring the behavioural basis of movement and consequently the variation in behaviour at species and individual levels. However, as human endeavours modify climate and land use, the behavioural processes of organisms in response to these changes, including movement, become critical to understanding the resulting biodiversity loss. Here, we draw together research from different subdisciplines in ecology to understand the impact of individual-level movement processes on community-level patterns in species composition and coexistence. We join the movement ecology framework with the key concepts from metacommunity theory, community assembly and modern coexistence theory using the idea of micro–macro links, where various aspects of emergent movement behaviour scale up to local and regional patterns in species mobility and mobile-link-generated patterns in abiotic and biotic environmental conditions. These in turn influence both individual movement and, at ecological timescales, mechanisms such as dispersal limitation, environmental filtering, and niche partitioning. We conclude by highlighting challenges to and promising future avenues for data generation, data analysis and complementary modelling approaches and provide a brief outlook on how a new behaviour-based view on movement becomes important in understanding the responses of communities under ongoing environmental change.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1073-1096
Number of pages24
JournalBiological Reviews
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Authors. Biological Reviews published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Cambridge Philosophical Society.


  • animal movement
  • biodiversity
  • biotic filter
  • dispersal
  • environmental filter
  • metacommunity
  • migration
  • mobile links
  • nomadism
  • species coexistence


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