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Quantifying effects of biodiversity on ecosystem functioning across times and places


Isbell, Forest; Cowles, Jane; Dee, Laura E; Loreau, Michel; Reich, Peter B; Gonzalez, Andrew; Hector, Andy; Schmid, Bernhard (2018). Quantifying effects of biodiversity on ecosystem functioning across times and places. Ecology Letters, 21(6):763-778.

Abstract

Biodiversity loss decreases ecosystem functioning at the local scales at which species interact, but it remains unclear how biodiversity loss affects ecosystem functioning at the larger scales of space and time that are most relevant to biodiversity conservation and policy. Theory predicts that additional insurance effects of biodiversity on ecosystem functioning could emerge across time and space if species respond asynchronously to environmental variation and if species become increasingly dominant when and where they are most productive. Even if only a few dominant species maintain ecosystem functioning within a particular time and place, ecosystem functioning may be enhanced by many different species across many times and places (β‐diversity). Here, we develop and apply a new approach to estimate these previously unquantified insurance effects of biodiversity on ecosystem functioning that arise due to species turnover across times and places. In a long‐term (18‐year) grassland plant diversity experiment, we find that total insurance effects are positive in sign and substantial in magnitude, amounting to 19% of the net biodiversity effect, mostly due to temporal insurance effects. Species loss can therefore reduce ecosystem functioning both locally and by eliminating species that would otherwise enhance ecosystem functioning across temporally fluctuating and spatially heterogeneous environments.

Abstract

Biodiversity loss decreases ecosystem functioning at the local scales at which species interact, but it remains unclear how biodiversity loss affects ecosystem functioning at the larger scales of space and time that are most relevant to biodiversity conservation and policy. Theory predicts that additional insurance effects of biodiversity on ecosystem functioning could emerge across time and space if species respond asynchronously to environmental variation and if species become increasingly dominant when and where they are most productive. Even if only a few dominant species maintain ecosystem functioning within a particular time and place, ecosystem functioning may be enhanced by many different species across many times and places (β‐diversity). Here, we develop and apply a new approach to estimate these previously unquantified insurance effects of biodiversity on ecosystem functioning that arise due to species turnover across times and places. In a long‐term (18‐year) grassland plant diversity experiment, we find that total insurance effects are positive in sign and substantial in magnitude, amounting to 19% of the net biodiversity effect, mostly due to temporal insurance effects. Species loss can therefore reduce ecosystem functioning both locally and by eliminating species that would otherwise enhance ecosystem functioning across temporally fluctuating and spatially heterogeneous environments.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
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:Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
Language:English
Date:2018
Deposited On:16 May 2018 15:26
Last Modified:23 Jan 2019 13:30
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:1461-023X
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/ele.12928
PubMed ID:29493062
Project Information:
  • : FunderH2020
  • : Grant ID666971
  • : Project TitleBIOSTASES - BIOdiversity, STAbility and sustainability in Spatial Ecological and social-ecological Systems

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