Plant species richness and ecosystem multifunctionality in global drylands

Fernando T. Maestre, José L. Quero, Nicholas J. Gotelli, Adrián Escudero, Victoria Ochoa, Manuel Delgado-Baquerizo, Miguel García-Gómez, Matthew A Bowker, Santiago Soliveres, Cristina Escolar, Pablo García-Palacios, Miguel Berdugo, Enrique Valencia, Beatriz Gozalo, Antonio Gallardo, Lorgio Aguilera, Tulio Arredondo, Julio Blones, Bertrand Boeken, Donaldo BranAbel A. Conceição, Omar Cabrera, Mohamed Chaieb, Mchich Derak, David J. Eldridge, Carlos I. Espinosa, Adriana Florentino, Juan Gaitán, M. Gabriel Gatica, Wahida Ghiloufi, Susana Gómez-González, Julio R. Gutiérrez, Rosa M. Hernández, Xuewen Huang, Elisabeth Huber-Sannwald, Mohammad Jankju, Maria Miriti, Jorge Monerris, Rebecca L. Mau, Ernesto Morici, Kamal Naseri, Abelardo Ospina, Vicente Polo, Aníbal Prina, Eduardo Pucheta, David A. Ramírez-Collantes, Roberto Romão, Matthew Tighe, Cristian Torres-Díaz, James Val, José P. Veiga, Deli Wang, Eli Zaady

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Abstract

Experiments suggest that biodiversity enhances the ability of ecosystems to maintain multiple functions, such as carbon storage, productivity, and the buildup of nutrient pools (multifunctionality). However, the relationship between biodiversity and multifunctionality has never been assessed globally in natural ecosystems. We report here on a global empirical study relating plant species richness and abiotic factors to multifunctionality in drylands, which collectively cover 41% of Earth's land surface and support over 38% of the human population. Multifunctionality was positively and significantly related to species richness. The best-fitting models accounted for over 55% of the variation in multifunctionality and always included species richness as a predictor variable. Our results suggest that the preservation of plant biodiversity is crucial to buffer negative effects of climate change and desertification in drylands.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)214-218
Number of pages5
JournalScience
Volume335
Issue number6065
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 13 2012

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Cite this

Maestre, F. T., Quero, J. L., Gotelli, N. J., Escudero, A., Ochoa, V., Delgado-Baquerizo, M., García-Gómez, M., Bowker, M. A., Soliveres, S., Escolar, C., García-Palacios, P., Berdugo, M., Valencia, E., Gozalo, B., Gallardo, A., Aguilera, L., Arredondo, T., Blones, J., Boeken, B., ... Zaady, E. (2012). Plant species richness and ecosystem multifunctionality in global drylands. Science, 335(6065), 214-218. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1215442