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Quantifying the evidence for biodiversity effects on ecosystem functioning and services.


Balvanera, P; Pfisterer, A B; Buchmann, N; He, J S; Nakashizuka, T; Raffaelli, D; Schmid, B (2006). Quantifying the evidence for biodiversity effects on ecosystem functioning and services. Ecology Letters, 9(10):1146-1156.

Abstract

Concern is growing about the consequences of biodiversity loss for ecosystem functioning, for the provision of ecosystem services, and for human well being. Experimental evidence for a relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem process rates is compelling, but the issue remains contentious. Here, we present the first rigorous quantitative assessment of this relationship through meta-analysis of experimental work spanning 50 years to June 2004. We analysed 446 measures of biodiversity effects (252 in grasslands), 319 of which involved primary producer manipulations or measurements. Our analyses show that: biodiversity effects are weaker if biodiversity manipulations are less well controlled; effects of biodiversity change on processes are weaker at the ecosystem compared with the community level and are negative at the population level; productivity-related effects decline with increasing number of trophic links between those elements manipulated and those measured; biodiversity effects on stability measures ('insurance' effects) are not stronger than biodiversity effects on performance measures. For those ecosystem services which could be assessed here, there is clear evidence that biodiversity has positive effects on most. Whilst such patterns should be further confirmed, a precautionary approach to biodiversity management would seem prudent in the meantime.

Abstract

Concern is growing about the consequences of biodiversity loss for ecosystem functioning, for the provision of ecosystem services, and for human well being. Experimental evidence for a relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem process rates is compelling, but the issue remains contentious. Here, we present the first rigorous quantitative assessment of this relationship through meta-analysis of experimental work spanning 50 years to June 2004. We analysed 446 measures of biodiversity effects (252 in grasslands), 319 of which involved primary producer manipulations or measurements. Our analyses show that: biodiversity effects are weaker if biodiversity manipulations are less well controlled; effects of biodiversity change on processes are weaker at the ecosystem compared with the community level and are negative at the population level; productivity-related effects decline with increasing number of trophic links between those elements manipulated and those measured; biodiversity effects on stability measures ('insurance' effects) are not stronger than biodiversity effects on performance measures. For those ecosystem services which could be assessed here, there is clear evidence that biodiversity has positive effects on most. Whilst such patterns should be further confirmed, a precautionary approach to biodiversity management would seem prudent in the meantime.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Biodiversity–ecosystem functioning, diversity manipulations, ecosystem services, experimental design, meta-analysis, trophic level
Language:English
Date:1 October 2006
Deposited On:11 Feb 2008 12:28
Last Modified:21 Nov 2017 13:25
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell
ISSN:1461-023X
Additional Information:The definitive version is available at www.blackwell-synergy.com
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1461-0248.2006.00963.x
PubMed ID:16972878

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