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      Effects of Habitat-Forming Species Richness, Evenness, Identity, and Abundance on Benthic Intertidal Community Establishment and Productivity

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          In a context of reduced global biodiversity, the potential impacts from the loss of habitat-forming species (HFS) on ecosystem structure and functioning must be established. These species are often the main community primary producers and have a major role in the establishment of organisms through facilitation processes. This study focuses on macroalgae and mussels as HFS within an intertidal zone along the St. Lawrence estuary (Quebec, Canada). Over a 16-week period, we manipulated the in situ diversity profile (richness, evenness, identity, and abundance) of the dominant HFS ( Fucus distichus edentatus, F. vesiculosus, and Mytilus spp.) in order to define their role in both the establishment of associated species and community primary production. Contrary to expectation, no general change in HFS richness, evenness, abundance, or identity on associated species community establishment was observed. However, over the study period, the HFS diversity profile modified the structure within the trophic guilds, which may potentially affect further community functions. Also, our results showed that the low abundance of HFS had a negative impact on the primary productivity of the community. Our results suggest that HFS diversity profiles have a limited short-term role in our study habitat and may indicate that biological forcing in these intertidal communities is less important than environmental conditions. As such, there was an opportunistic establishment of species that ensured rapid colonization regardless of the absence, or the diversity profile, of facilitators such as HFS.

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          Most cited references 12

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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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            The future of biodiversity.

            Recent extinction rates are 100 to 1000 times their pre-human levels in well-known, but taxonomically diverse groups from widely different environments. If all species currently deemed "threatened" become extinct in the next century, then future extinction rates will be 10 times recent rates. Some threatened species will survive the century, but many species not now threatened will succumb. Regions rich in species found only within them (endemics) dominate the global patterns of extinction. Although new technology provides details of habitat losses, estimates of future extinctions are hampered by our limited knowledge of which areas are rich in endemics.
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              Dominance and Diversity in Land Plant Communities: Numerical relations of species express the importance of competition in community function and evolution.

              Most plant communities consist of several or many species which compete for light, water, and nutrients. Species in a given community may be ranked by their relative success in competition; productivity seems to be the best measure of their success or importance in the community. Curves of decreasing productivity connect the few most important species (the dominants) with a larger number of species of intermediate importance (whose number primarily determines the community's diversity or richness in species) and a smaller number of rare species. These curves are of varied forms and are believed to express different patterns of competition and niche differentiation in communities. It is probably true of plants, as of animals, that no two species in a stable community occupy the same niche. Evolution of niche differentiation makes possible the occurrence together of many plant species which are partial, rather than direct, competitors. Species tend to evolve also toward habitat differentiation, toward scattering of their centers of maximum population density in relation to environmental gradients, so that few species are competing with one another in their population centers. Evolution of both niche and habitat differentiation permits many species to exist together in communities as partial competitors, with distributions broadly and continuously overlapping, forming the landscape's many intergrading communities.

                Author and article information

                Role: Editor
                PLoS One
                PLoS ONE
                PLoS ONE
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, USA )
                14 October 2014
                : 9
                : 10
                Département des sciences fondamentales, Université du Québec à Chicoutimi, Chicoutimi, Québec, Canada
                University of Waikato (National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research), New Zealand
                Author notes

                Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

                Conceived and designed the experiments: JL MC. Performed the experiments: JL MC. Analyzed the data: JL MC. Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: JL MC. Wrote the paper: JL MC.


                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: 10
                This research was supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC, Discovery Grants) #371464-2009 and by the Funds for Research in Nature and Technology, New University Researchers Start-up Program #2010-NC-131180 to MC. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
                Research Article
                Biology and Life Sciences
                Community Ecology
                Community Structure
                Ecological Metrics
                Species Diversity
                Shannon Index
                Biomass (Ecology)
                Coastal Ecosystems
                Ecosystem Functioning
                Coastal Ecology
                Marine Ecology
                Ecology and Environmental Sciences
                Custom metadata
                The authors confirm that all data underlying the findings are fully available without restriction. All relevant data are within the paper and its Supporting Information files.



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