The correlation between trait, interaction, role and environment leads to a wide variety of niches and roles, at least in natural ecosystems. The possibility of transposing this correlation from the natural world to that of the city ecosystem, i.e. the world of organisations and society, seems obvious. In the previous section we elaborated on interactions, in this section we focus on traits, environments and roles. 

A trait or character is a feature of a component.

In natural ecosystems ‘traits play a central role, because it is the trait that determine how a species (component in our model) reacts to environmental change, and how this reaction influences ecosystem functions.” (Astor, 2011). There is a direct relation between the trait of an organisation and the effect on the system itself. That is truly an holistic essence. “In this respect functional traits can be defined as those phenotypical components of an organism that influence ecosystem properties or biogeochemical processes, and those that determine the response of an organism to environmental conditions” (Lavorel & Garnier, 2002; Hooper et al.,2005).

Behavioural ecology is the study of the evolutionary basis for animal behaviour due to ecological pressures. Behavioral ecology emerged from ethology after Niko Tinbergen outlined four questions to address when studying animal behavior which are the proximate causes, ontogeny, survival value, and phylogeny of behavior. If an organism has a trait which provides a selective advantage (i.e. has an adaptive significance) in its environment, then natural selection will favor it. Adaptive significance refers to the expression of a trait that affects fitness, measured by an individual’s reproductive success. Adaptive traits are those which produce more copies of the individual’s genes in future generations. Maladaptive traits are those which leave fewer. For example, if a bird able to call more loudly attracts more mates, then a loud call is an adaptive trait for that species because he will mate more frequently than a bird who can not call so loudly, thus sending more loud-calling genes into future generations than the soft-caller does.

Individuals are always in competition with others for limited resources, including food, territories, and mates. Conflict will occur between predators and prey, between rivals for mates, between siblings, mates, and even between parents and their offspring.

The trait: attitude towards cooperation
In the city ecosystem the trait of a component is considered to be the result of cultural factors, type of business and forms of leadership and management. This trait for an optimal development of a city ecosystem is mentioned over and over again in the extended helix concepts.

The trait has been considered as important for the greater good of local and regional development. The philosophy and the approach of the triple and quadruple helix is generally adopted as true, but it all begins with this attitude towards cooperation. The trait incorporates attitude as well as empowerment of an organisation to implement and motivate on cooperation. We developed a rate on an empirical basis from the perspective of city managers with several stages of maturity: secretive, square, delta, rolling and cooperative.

Inward-looking and operating complete independently from other components. Hard to be approached.

Working and focusing mainly on own targets, not aware of the bigger picture they can benefit from. Stiff and leaning back on cooperation.

Improving and learning organisation, more and more aware of environment and possible benefits of improving basic processes to own performance.

Cooperating and networking with main accent on self satisfaction, basic processes are good, has a good network in which it can deliver products and services on a fairly high level.

Cooperating with benefits to the max, well organised and open to cooperation. Initiating alliances and an optimal player in the bigger picture of common goals.


Astor, Tina  (2011) The importance of species traits in biodiversity-ecosystem functioning research .Department of Ecology, SLU, Uppsala Link

Alyssa R. Cirtwill, Anna Eklöf. Feeding environment and other traits shape species’ roles in marine food webs. Ecology Letters, 2018; DOI: 10.1111/ele.12955 Link

Hooper D.U., Chapin F.S., Ewel J.J., Hector A., Inchausti P., Lavorel S., Lawton J.H., Lodge D.M., Loreau M., Naeem S., Schmid B., Setala H., Symstad A.J., Vandermeer J. & Wardle D.A. (2005). Effects of biodiversity on ecosystem functioning: A consensus of current knowledge. Ecological Monographs, 75, 3‐35. 

Lavorel S. & Garnier E. (2002). Predicting changes in community composition and ecosystem functioning from plant traits: revisiting the Holy Grail. Functional Ecology, 16, 545‐556.