Virginia Institute of Marine Science
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.
GRASSLAND COMMUNITIES; MULTIPLE FUNCTIONS; FUNCTIONAL-ROLE; FOOD-WEB; DIVERSITY; SERVICES; REDUNDANCY; IMPACTS
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We foremost thank the authors of the original data sets, without whom this effort would not be possible, particularly D. Tilman and P. Reich. We also thank K. Matulich for contributions to the original BEF database. This work was funded by the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS Project 12560) to B.J.C., D.U. Hooper and J.E.D. Support for NCEAS comes from University of California Santa Barbara and the National Science Foundation. J.S.L. was additionally supported by NSF 1050680, VA SeaGrant NA10OAR4170085 and the VIMS Council, Dean's, and Maury Fellowships. Further support came from the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig, funding by the German Research Foundation (FZT 118). This paper is Contribution No. 3445 of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William and Mary.
Lefcheck, Jonathan S.; Byrnes, Jarrett E. K.; Isbell, Forest; Gamfeldt, Lars; Griffin, John N.; Esienhaur, Nico; Hensel, Marc J.S.; Hector, Andy; Cardinale, Bradley J.; and Duffy, J. Emmett, Biodiversity enhances ecosystem multifunctionality across trophic levels and habitats (2015). NATURE COMMUNICATIONS, 6.