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      Functional Structure of Biological Communities Predicts Ecosystem Multifunctionality

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          Abstract

          The accelerating rate of change in biodiversity patterns, mediated by ever increasing human pressures and global warming, demands a better understanding of the relationship between the structure of biological communities and ecosystem functioning (BEF). Recent investigations suggest that the functional structure of communities, i.e. the composition and diversity of functional traits, is the main driver of ecological processes. However, the predictive power of BEF research is still low, the integration of all components of functional community structure as predictors is still lacking, and the multifunctionality of ecosystems (i.e. rates of multiple processes) must be considered. Here, using a multiple-processes framework from grassland biodiversity experiments, we show that functional identity of species and functional divergence among species, rather than species diversity per se, together promote the level of ecosystem multifunctionality with a predictive power of 80%. Our results suggest that primary productivity and decomposition rates, two key ecosystem processes upon which the global carbon cycle depends, are primarily sustained by specialist species, i.e. those that hold specialized combinations of traits and perform particular functions. Contrary to studies focusing on single ecosystem functions and considering species richness as the sole measure of biodiversity, we found a linear and non-saturating effect of the functional structure of communities on ecosystem multifunctionality. Thus, sustaining multiple ecological processes would require focusing on trait dominance and on the degree of community specialization, even in species-rich assemblages.

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          Most cited references 87

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          Quantifying the evidence for biodiversity effects on ecosystem functioning and services.

          Concern is growing about the consequences of biodiversity loss for ecosystem functioning, for the provision of ecosystem services, and for human well being. Experimental evidence for a relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem process rates is compelling, but the issue remains contentious. Here, we present the first rigorous quantitative assessment of this relationship through meta-analysis of experimental work spanning 50 years to June 2004. We analysed 446 measures of biodiversity effects (252 in grasslands), 319 of which involved primary producer manipulations or measurements. Our analyses show that: biodiversity effects are weaker if biodiversity manipulations are less well controlled; effects of biodiversity change on processes are weaker at the ecosystem compared with the community level and are negative at the population level; productivity-related effects decline with increasing number of trophic links between those elements manipulated and those measured; biodiversity effects on stability measures ('insurance' effects) are not stronger than biodiversity effects on performance measures. For those ecosystem services which could be assessed here, there is clear evidence that biodiversity has positive effects on most. Whilst such patterns should be further confirmed, a precautionary approach to biodiversity management would seem prudent in the meantime.
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            Benefits of plant diversity to ecosystems: immediate, filter and founder effects

             J. P. Grime (1998)
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              New multidimensional functional diversity indices for a multifaceted framework in functional ecology.

              Functional diversity is increasingly identified as an important driver of ecosystem functioning. Various indices have been proposed to measure the functional diversity of a community, but there is still no consensus on which are most suitable. Indeed, none of the existing indices meets all the criteria required for general use. The main criteria are that they must be designed to deal with several traits, take into account abundances, and measure all the facets of functional diversity. Here we propose three indices to quantify each facet of functional diversity for a community with species distributed in a multidimensional functional space: functional richness (volume of the functional space occupied by the community), functional evenness (regularity of the distribution of abundance in this volume), and functional divergence (divergence in the distribution of abundance in this volume). Functional richness is estimated using the existing convex hull volume index. The new functional evenness index is based on the minimum spanning tree which links all the species in the multidimensional functional space. Then this new index quantifies the regularity with which species abundances are distributed along the spanning tree. Functional divergence is measured using a novel index which quantifies how species diverge in their distances (weighted by their abundance) from the center of gravity in the functional space. We show that none of the indices meets all the criteria required for a functional diversity index, but instead we show that the set of three complementary indices meets these criteria. Through simulations of artificial data sets, we demonstrate that functional divergence and functional evenness are independent of species richness and that the three functional diversity indices are independent of each other. Overall, our study suggests that decomposition of functional diversity into its three primary components provides a meaningful framework for its quantification and for the classification of existing functional diversity indices. This decomposition has the potential to shed light on the role of biodiversity on ecosystem functioning and on the influence of biotic and abiotic filters on the structure of species communities. Finally, we propose a general framework for applying these three functional diversity indices.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Role: Editor
                Journal
                PLoS One
                plos
                plosone
                PLoS ONE
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, USA )
                1932-6203
                2011
                10 March 2011
                : 6
                : 3
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Laboratoire Ecologie des Systèmes Marins Côtiers UMR 5119, Université Montpellier 2, Montpellier, France
                [2 ]Laboratoire Evolution et Diversité Biologique UMR 5174, Université Paul Sabatier, Toulouse, France
                [3 ]Faculty of Biology - Geobotany, University of Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany
                [4 ]Landcare Research, Hamilton, New Zealand
                Dalhousie University, Canada
                Author notes

                Conceived and designed the experiments: MSL. Performed the experiments: MSL. Analyzed the data: DM SV NWHM MSL. Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: DM SV NWHM MSL. Wrote the manuscript: DM SV NWHM MSL.

                Article
                PONE-D-10-03809
                10.1371/journal.pone.0017476
                3053366
                21423747
                Mouillot et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
                Page count
                Pages: 9
                Categories
                Research Article
                Biology
                Ecology
                Biodiversity
                Community Ecology
                Ecosystems
                Plant Ecology
                Plant Science

                Uncategorized

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