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Nat Commun. 2015 Apr 24;6:6936. doi: 10.1038/ncomms7936.

Biodiversity enhances ecosystem multifunctionality across trophic levels and habitats.

Author information

1
Department of Biological Sciences, Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William and Mary, Gloucester Point, Virginia 23062-1346, USA.
2
Department of Biology, University of Massachusetts Boston, Boston, Massachusetts 02125, USA.
3
Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, University of Minnesota, Saint Paul, Minnesota 55108, USA.
4
Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Gothenburg, Box 461, SE-40530 Gothenburg, Sweden.
5
Department of Biosciences, Wallace Building, Swansea University, Singleton Park, Swansea SA2 8PP, UK.
6
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig, Deutscher Platz 5e, 04103 Leipzig, Germany.
7
Institute of Biology, University of Leipzig, Johannisallee 21, 04103 Leipzig, Germany.
8
Department of Plant Sciences, University of Oxford, OX1 3RB Oxford, UK.
9
School for Natural Resources and Environment, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109, USA.
10
Tennenbaum Marine Observatories Network, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, Washington DC 20013-7012, USA.

Abstract

The importance of biodiversity for the integrated functioning of ecosystems remains unclear because most evidence comes from analyses of biodiversity's effect on individual functions. Here we show that the effects of biodiversity on ecosystem function become more important as more functions are considered. We present the first systematic investigation of biodiversity's effect on ecosystem multifunctionality across multiple taxa, trophic levels and habitats using a comprehensive database of 94 manipulations of species richness. We show that species-rich communities maintained multiple functions at higher levels than depauperate ones. These effects were stronger for herbivore biodiversity than for plant biodiversity, and were remarkably consistent across aquatic and terrestrial habitats. Despite observed tradeoffs, the overall effect of biodiversity on multifunctionality grew stronger as more functions were considered. These results indicate that prior research has underestimated the importance of biodiversity for ecosystem functioning by focusing on individual functions and taxonomic groups.

PMID:
25907115
PMCID:
PMC4423209
DOI:
10.1038/ncomms7936
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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