A general biodiversity–function relationship is mediated by trophic level

Mary I. O'Connor, Andrew Gonzalez, Jarrett E K Byrnes, Bradley J. Cardinale, J. Emmett Duffy, Lars Gamfeldt, John N. Griffin, David Hooper, Bruce A Hungate, Alain Paquette, Patrick L. Thompson, Laura E. Dee, Kristin L. Dolan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

33 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Species diversity affects the functioning of ecosystems, including the efficiency by which communities capture limited resources, produce biomass, recycle and retain biologically essential nutrients. These ecological functions ultimately support the ecosystem services upon which humanity depends. Despite hundreds of experimental tests of the effect of biodiversity on ecosystem function (BEF), it remains unclear whether diversity effects are sufficiently general that we can use a single relationship to quantitatively predict how changes in species richness alter an ecosystem function across trophic levels, ecosystems and ecological conditions. Our objective here is to determine whether a general relationship exists between biodiversity and standing biomass. We used hierarchical mixed effects models, based on a power function between species richness and biomass production (Y = a × Sb), and a database of 374 published experiments to estimate the BEF relationship (the change in biomass with the addition of species), and its associated uncertainty, in the context of environmental factors. We found that the mean relationship (b = 0.26, 95% CI: 0.16, 0.37) characterized the vast majority of observations, was robust to differences in experimental design, and was independent of the range of species richness levels considered. However, the richness–biomass relationship varied by trophic level and among ecosystems; in aquatic systems b was nearly twice as large for consumers (herbivores and detritivores) compared to primary producers; in terrestrial ecosystems, b for detritivores was negative but depended on few studies. We estimated changes in biomass expected for a range of changes in species richness, highlighting that species loss has greater implications than species gains, skewing a distribution of biomass change relative to observed species richness change. When biomass provides a good proxy for processes that underpin ecosystem services, this relationship could be used as a step in modeling the production of ecosystem services and their dependence on biodiversity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)18-31
Number of pages14
JournalOikos
Volume126
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

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trophic level
species diversity
ecosystems
biomass
species richness
ecosystem services
biodiversity
ecosystem function
ecosystem service
detritivores
ecosystem
ecological function
trophic levels
biomass production
terrestrial ecosystem
experimental design
herbivores
uncertainty
herbivore
environmental factor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

Cite this

O'Connor, M. I., Gonzalez, A., Byrnes, J. E. K., Cardinale, B. J., Duffy, J. E., Gamfeldt, L., ... Dolan, K. L. (2017). A general biodiversity–function relationship is mediated by trophic level. Oikos, 126(1), 18-31. https://doi.org/10.1111/oik.03652

A general biodiversity–function relationship is mediated by trophic level. / O'Connor, Mary I.; Gonzalez, Andrew; Byrnes, Jarrett E K; Cardinale, Bradley J.; Duffy, J. Emmett; Gamfeldt, Lars; Griffin, John N.; Hooper, David; Hungate, Bruce A; Paquette, Alain; Thompson, Patrick L.; Dee, Laura E.; Dolan, Kristin L.

In: Oikos, Vol. 126, No. 1, 01.01.2017, p. 18-31.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

O'Connor, MI, Gonzalez, A, Byrnes, JEK, Cardinale, BJ, Duffy, JE, Gamfeldt, L, Griffin, JN, Hooper, D, Hungate, BA, Paquette, A, Thompson, PL, Dee, LE & Dolan, KL 2017, 'A general biodiversity–function relationship is mediated by trophic level', Oikos, vol. 126, no. 1, pp. 18-31. https://doi.org/10.1111/oik.03652
O'Connor MI, Gonzalez A, Byrnes JEK, Cardinale BJ, Duffy JE, Gamfeldt L et al. A general biodiversity–function relationship is mediated by trophic level. Oikos. 2017 Jan 1;126(1):18-31. https://doi.org/10.1111/oik.03652
O'Connor, Mary I. ; Gonzalez, Andrew ; Byrnes, Jarrett E K ; Cardinale, Bradley J. ; Duffy, J. Emmett ; Gamfeldt, Lars ; Griffin, John N. ; Hooper, David ; Hungate, Bruce A ; Paquette, Alain ; Thompson, Patrick L. ; Dee, Laura E. ; Dolan, Kristin L. / A general biodiversity–function relationship is mediated by trophic level. In: Oikos. 2017 ; Vol. 126, No. 1. pp. 18-31.
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