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The Functional Consequences of Biodiversity

The Functional Consequences of Biodiversity: Empirical Progress and Theoretical Extensions (MPB-33)

Copyright Date: 2002
Pages: 392
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  • Book Info
    The Functional Consequences of Biodiversity
    Book Description:

    Does biodiversity influence how ecosystems function? Might diversity loss affect the ability of ecosystems to deliver services of benefit to humankind? Ecosystems provide food, fuel, fiber, and drinkable water, regulate local and regional climate, and recycle needed nutrients, among other things. An ecosyste's ability to sustain functioning may depend on the number of species residing in the ecosystem--its biological diversity--but this has been a controversial hypothesis. There are many unanswered questions about how and why changes in biodiversity could alter ecosystem functioning. This volume, written by top researchers, synthesizes empirical studies on the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning and extends that knowledge using a novel and coordinated set of models and theoretical approaches.

    These experimental and theoretical analyses demonstrate that functioning usually increases with biodiversity, but also reveals when and under what circumstances other relationships between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning might occur. It also accounts for apparent changes in diversity-functioning relationships that emerge over time in disturbed ecosystems, thereby addressing a major controversy in the field. The volume concludes with a blueprint for moving beyond small-scale studies to regional ones--a move of enormous significance for policy and conservation but one that will entail tackling some of the most fundamental challenges in ecology.

    In addition to the editors, the contributors are Juan Armesto, Claudia Neuhauser, Andy Hector, Clarence Lehman, Peter Kareiva, Sharon Lawler, Peter Chesson, Teri Balser, Mary K. Firestone, Robert Holt, Michel Loreau, Johannes Knops, David Wedin, Peter Reich, Shahid Naeem, Bernhard Schmid, Jasmin Joshi, and Felix Schläpfer.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-4730-3
    Subjects: Biological Sciences

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-xii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xiii-xviii)
  4. List of Contributors
    (pp. xix-xx)
  5. List of Figures
    (pp. xxi-xxiv)
  6. List of Tables
    (pp. xxv-xxvi)
  7. CHAPTER ONE Opening Remarks
    (pp. 1-6)
    Ann P. Kinzig

    Darwin first proposed a connection between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in 1859. Interest in the topic has mainly waned—sometimes waxed—in the time interval since. In the last few decades, however, the waxing has had the upper hand, and a quick trip through an electronic archive reveals over 100 articles on this topic since 1982.

    Why then a book on the subject? First, there have been significant advances in our empirical understanding of the diversity–functioning relationship in the last few years, but those results have not been compiled, evaluated, and synthesized in both a comprehensive and detailed manner...

  8. PART 1 Empirical Progress

    • CHAPTER TWO Biodiversity, Composition, and Ecosystem Processes: Theory and Concepts
      (pp. 9-41)
      David Tilman and Clarence Lehman

      Although Darwin (1859) hypothesized that diversity should affect productivity, and cited agricultural evidence in support of this assertion (see McNaughton 1993), further interest in the potential effects of diversity on stability, productivity, and invasibility began with Odum (1953), Mac-Arthur (1955), Margalef (1969), and especially Elton (1958). These individuals, and others of that era, offered a variety of reasons why the rates of various community and ecosystem processes, especially those related to stability and community invasibility, might depend on diversity. As was the tradition of the era, these concepts were mainly developed using verbal “models,” and the field evidence cited in...

    • CHAPTER THREE Experimental and Observational Studies of Diversity, Productivity, and Stability
      (pp. 42-70)
      David Tilman, Johannes Knops, David Wedin and Peter Reich

      From the early ideas of Darwin (1859), Elton (1958), Odum (1953), and others, to the work of May (1972), McNaughton (1977), Pimm (1979, 1984), King and Pimm (1983), to the more recent work of Schulze and Mooney (1993), Vitousek and Hooper (1993), Lawton and Brown (1993), McNaughton (1993), Huston (1997), Tilman, Lehman, and Thomson (1997), Loreau (1994, 1998a, 1998b), Ives, Gross, and Klug (1999), Tilman (1999b) and others, many alternative concepts and theories have been proposed linking the rate and direction of ecosystem processes to diversity. In this chapter, we evaluate these hypotheses by comparing their predictions to results of...

    • CHAPTER FOUR Biodiversity and the Functioning of Grassland Ecosystems: Multi-Site Comparisons
      (pp. 71-95)
      Andy Hector

      An important goal of science is repeatability. This can prove difficult in ecology because environmental conditions such as the weather are never constant. Consequently, when faced with a small number of studies from a new area of research it is difficult to know how general the results are or whether they constitute special cases. When results conflict, does it reflect real differences in underlying biology, in environmental conditions, or in experimental design and methods? One way to progress is via robust meta-analysis of multiple studies (Osenberg, Sarnelle, and Goldberg 2000). Another is to conduct experiments with standardized methodologies that are...

    • CHAPTER FIVE Autotrophic-Heterotrophic Interactions and Their Impacts on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning
      (pp. 96-119)
      Shahid Naeem

      Whittaker (1957) observed that at the most basic level, the biota can be considered a single protoplasmic realm. To transform a geochemical model of ecosystem functioning into a biogeochemical model requires adding this “protoplasm,” whose metabolic processes modify geochemical processes. A logical starting point for a biogeochemical model is to add a photosynthetic protoplasm, a “green slime,” that couples biotic with abiotic carbon cycling. Such a model becomes even more informative when nitrogen, carbon’s intimate biogeochemical partner, is included. To treat the “immense diversity” that Whittaker refers to, however, requires additional steps. First, the green slime must be partitioned into...

    • CHAPTER SIX Empirical Evidence for Biodiversity–Ecosystem Functioning Relationships
      (pp. 120-150)
      Bernhard Schmid, Jasmin Joshi and Felix Schläpfer

      The implementation of ecosystem models relating biodiversity to ecosystem functioning requires empirically derived parameter values. We assemble and summarize these parameter values by reviewing empirical studies. From this review, it becomes obvious which parameters have good empirical estimates and where the data are still poor or lacking. Generally, there are good data for aboveground net primary productivity, poorer data for mineralization and decomposition, and hardly any data for water relations. The essential point of the review (as well as of the models) is that we want to know how changing the diversity of species in ecosystems alters the parameters of...

    • CHAPTER SEVEN The Transition from Sampling to Complementarity
      (pp. 151-166)
      Stephen Pacala and David Tilman

      We suspect that only two years ago many ecologists would have predicted that the sampling mechanism (Huston 1997; Aarssen 1997; Tilman et al. 1997) ultimately would be confirmed as the primary cause of the positive effect of biodiversity on ecosystem function reported in most experimental studies. Indeed this view catalyzed a largely semantic debate among scientists about the interpretation of the experimental findings. One camp (Huston 1997; Aarssen 1997; Wardle, Bonner, and Nicholson 1997; Grime 1997) argued that the experiments showed no “real” effect of diversity because the most productive monocultures performed as well in the experiments as the high-diversity...

  9. PART 2 Theoretical Extensions

    • CHAPTER EIGHT Introduction to Theory and the Common Ecosystem Model
      (pp. 169-174)
      Stephen Pacala and Ann P. Kinzig

      Ultimately, the form of the diversity–functioning relationship in particular systems must depend on the mechanisms permitting species coexistence in those systems. Do those characteristics permitting competitive dominance also permit maximum functioning? How do those characteristics permitting coexistence in the presence of a competitive dominant contribute to functioning? What relationship between diversity and functioning, for instance, should we expect if coexistence derives from trophic interactions and the function of interest is nitrogen mineralization? Presumably, that relationship might look very different if, instead, coexistence derived from competition for multiple limiting resources. In other words, we need to be able to examine...

    • CHAPTER NINE Successional Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning
      (pp. 175-212)
      Ann P. Kinzig and Stephen Pacala

      Any undergraduate in an introductory ecology course can list and explain the different kinds of succession (if keeping up with the material). The principal distinctions of primary versus secondary succession and competition versus facilitation have not changed substantially in several decades, providing some evidence that the broad outline of succession is well understood. Here, we focus on the most widespread and common form—secondary succession driven by competitive interactions among plants.

      Consider two different secondary successions in mesic forest on rich soils. In the first, a storm blows down the large trees in a late-successional stand, but spares the more...

    • CHAPTER TEN Environmental Niches and Ecosystem Functioning
      (pp. 213-245)
      Peter Chesson, Stephen Pacala and Claudia Neuhauser

      The physical environment is strikingly variable in time and space, providing challenges and opportunities for the organisms in any ecosystem. At first thought, such temporal and spatial variation might be expected to be disruptive to ecosystem functioning. However, the extent to which this is so must depend on the structure of the ecosystem. At the ecosystem level, we can ask, What properties of the organisms individually and collectively maximize ecosystem functioning in the presence of environmental variability? At the level of individual organisms, we can ask, How does natural selection acting on individuals affect ecosystem functioning in the communities in...

    • CHAPTER ELEVEN Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning: The Role of Trophic Interactions and the Importance of System Openness
      (pp. 246-262)
      Robert D. Holt and Michel Loreau

      A central theme in ecology is that population dynamics, species coexistence, and, ultimately, the entire organization of communities are all profoundly influenced by the complex web of trophic interactions that binds the lives of species together (Pimm 1982; Polis and Winemiller 1996). (The term “trophic interaction” here denotes feeding relationships between species, usually implying transfers of energy and nutrients.) A priori, given the growing evidence for trophic cascades (Pace et al. 1999) and other system-wide manifestations of trophic interactions (e.g., Elliott et al. 1983, Hairston and Hairston 1993; DeRuiter, Neutel, and Moore 1995; Grover and Loreau 1996), it would be...

  10. PART 3 Applications and Future Directions

    • CHAPTER TWELVE Linking Soil Microbial Communities and Ecosystem Functioning
      (pp. 265-293)
      Teri C. Balser, Ann P. Kinzig and Mary K. Firestone

      Microorganisms decompose organic matter and transform mineral nutrients in aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. Despite the centrality of microbes, scientists often study ecosystem functioning without explicit reference to the microbial populations carrying out soil processes. The potential for rapid microbial growth, and the high degree of diversity and genetic exchange in microbial systems, has led to the often-held assumption that microbial catalysts do not limit the processes involved in ecosystem nutrient transfer and transformation (Meyer 1993). The utility of first-order kinetics in predicting process rates appears to confirm this assumption (Andrén, Brussaard, and Clarholme 1999). Recent advances in the techniques available...

    • CHAPTER THIRTEEN How Relevant to Conservation Are Studies Linking Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning?
      (pp. 294-313)
      Sharon P. Lawler, Juan J. Armesto and Peter Kareiva

      Research on biodiversity and ecosystem functioning has been embraced by some in the conservation community (e.g., Walker 1995; Edwards and Abivardi 1998) but viewed with skepticism by others (e.g., Soule 1996; Schwartz et al. 2000). These differing attitudes arise from alternative views of the goals and purposes of conservation. Most basic research papers on biodiversity claim to be germane to conservation practice. Many have experimental designs that are meant to mimic reductions in local biodiversity, an issue that is clearly central to conservation. However, conservation ecologists disagree on the extent to which conservation practices should be guided by scientific results,...

    • CHAPTER FOURTEEN Looking Back and Peering Forward
      (pp. 314-330)
      Ann P. Kinzig, Stephen Pacala and David Tilman

      In this volume, we have summarized the empirical evidence for a connection between species diversity and ecosystem functioning. We have been able to extend those empirical demonstrations with theoretical analyses that aid in understanding when and under what circumstances alternative forms of the diversity–functioning relationship might emerge. In addition, the theory allows us to extend experimental results to larger spatial and longer temporal scales. We hope that this volume will help resolve some of the recent controversies that have characterized the scientific debate on diversity–functioning relationships, although this book was not originally conceived in that vein. Yet we...

  11. References
    (pp. 331-358)
  12. Index
    (pp. 359-365)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 366-366)