Our knowledge about land-use impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem functioning is mostly limited to single trophic levels, leaving us uncertain about whole-community biodiversity-ecosystem functioning relationships. We analyse consequences of the globally important land-use transformation from tropical forests to oil palm plantations. Species diversity, density and biomass of invertebrate communities suffer at least 45% decreases from rainforest to oil palm. Combining metabolic and food-web theory, we calculate annual energy fluxes to model impacts of land-use intensification on multitrophic ecosystem functioning. We demonstrate a 51% reduction in energy fluxes from forest to oil palm communities. Species loss clearly explains variation in energy fluxes; however, this relationship depends on land-use systems and functional feeding guilds, whereby predators are the most heavily affected. Biodiversity decline from forest to oil palm is thus accompanied by even stronger reductions in functionality, threatening to severely limit the functional resilience of communities to cope with future global changes.
Transformation of natural ecosystems into agricultural land is usually accompanied by extensive biodiversity loss. Calculating multitrophic energy fluxes, Barnes et al. report severe reductions of biodiversity and ecosystem functioning from tropical rainforest to oil-palm plantations.