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Science. 2004 Nov 5;306(5698):1019-20.

Biodiversity effects on soil processes explained by interspecific functional dissimilarity.

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  • 1Vrije Universiteit, Institute of Ecological Science, Department of Animal Ecology, de Boelelaan 1085, 1081 HV Amsterdam, Netherlands.


The loss of biodiversity can have significant impacts on ecosystem functioning, but the mechanisms involved lack empirical confirmation. Using soil microcosms, we show experimentally that functional dissimilarity among detritivorous species, not species number, drives community compositional effects on leaf litter mass loss and soil respiration, two key soil ecosystem processes. These experiments confirm theoretical predictions that biodiversity effects on ecosystem functioning can be predicted by the degree of functional differences among species.

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