Navas M-L (2012). Trait-based approaches to unravelling the assembly of weed communities and their impact on agro-ecosystem functioning. Weed Research52, 479–488.
The trait-based approach to plant functional ecology has gained considerable attention over the last two decades, allowing ecologists to address questions relating to species distribution, community assembly and ecosystem functioning. We show here how this approach can be used to address these issues for weed ecology in a new way, allowing research to shift from purely weed control issues to a more global understanding of the impact of weed communities on the agro-ecosystem. We review how weed species are sorted by environmental factors and management according to the value of traits and the role thereof in the assembly of weed communities. How weed trait values and their distribution within communities affect agro-ecosystem processes is discussed in relation to loss of crop production. We also introduce the question of the impact of weed functional structure on ecosystem services and suggest some directions for research at species, community and agro-ecosystem levels.