The composition of communities is strongly altered by anthropogenic manipulations of biogeochemical cycles, abiotic conditions, and trophic structure in all major ecosystems. Whereas the effects of species loss on ecosystem processes have received broad attention, the consequences of altered species dominance for emergent properties of communities and ecosystems are poorly investigated. Here we propose a framework guiding our understanding of how dominance affects species interactions within communities, processes within ecosystems, and dynamics on regional scales. Dominance (or the complementary term, evenness) reflects the distribution of traits in a community, which in turn affects the strength and sign of both intraspecifc and interspecific interactions. Consequently, dominance also mediates the effect of such interactions on species coexistence. We review the evidence for the fact that dominance directly affects ecosystem functions such as process rates via species identity (the dominant trait) and evenness (the frequency distribution of traits), and indirectly alters the relationship between process rates and species richness. Dominance also influences the temporal and spatial variability of aggregate community properties and compositional stability (invasibility). Finally, we propose that dominance affects regional species coexistence by altering metacommunity dynamics. Local dominance leads to high beta diversity, and rare species can persist because of source-sink dynamics, but anthropogenically induced environmental changes result in regional dominance and low beta diversity, reducing regional coexistence. Given the rapid anthropogenic alterations of dominance in many ecosystems and the strong implications of these changes, dominance should be considered explicitly in the analysis of consequences of altered biodiversity.