A total of seven functional traits with linkages to peat moisture content were identified and quantified as community weighted-means for each of 43 taxa in a training set from Tierra del Fuego, South America. Transfer functions based on multiple linear regression and partial least-squares were produced, validated using cross-validation and an independent test set, and applied to three core records. Trait-based models performed remarkably well. Model performance based on cross-validation and an independent test set was only marginally weaker than for models based on species and reconstructed down-core trends were extremely similar. Trait-based models offer considerable potential for paleoecological reconstruction particularly in no-analogue situations, where no species transfer function is available and for inexperienced analysts. The approach deserves further validation and testing for both testate amoebae and other groups of microfossils.