When does diversity matter?: Species functional diversity and ecosystem functioning across habitats and seasons in a field experiment
2014 (English)In: Journal of Animal Ecology, ISSN 0021-8790, E-ISSN 1365-2656, Vol. 83, no 2, 460-469 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Despite ample experimental evidence indicating that biodiversity might be an important driver of ecosystem processes, its role in the functioning of real ecosystems remains unclear. In particular, the understanding of which aspects of biodiversity are most important for ecosystem functioning, their importance relative to other biotic and abiotic drivers, and the circumstances under which biodiversity is most likely to influence functioning in nature, is limited. We conducted a field study that focussed on a guild of insect detritivores in streams, in which we quantified variation in the process of leaf decomposition across two habitats (riffles and pools) and two seasons (autumn and spring). The study was conducted in six streams, and the same locations were sampled in the two seasons. With the aid of structural equations modelling, we assessed spatiotemporal variation in the roles of three key biotic drivers in this process: functional diversity, quantified based on a spe- cies trait matrix, consumer density and biomass. Our models also accounted for variability related to different litter resources, and other sources of biotic and abiotic variability among streams. All three of our focal biotic drivers influenced leaf decomposition, but none was important in all habitats and seasons. Functional diversity had contrasting effects on decomposition between habitats and seasons. A positive relationship was observed in pool habitats in spring, associated with high trait dispersion, whereas a negative relationship was observed in riffle habitats during autumn. Our results demonstrate that functional biodiversity can be as significant for functioning in natural ecosystems as other important biotic drivers. In particular, variation in the role of functional diversity between seasons highlights the importance of fluctuations in the relative abundances of traits for ecosystem process rates in real ecosystems.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
John Wiley & Sons, 2014. Vol. 83, no 2, 460-469 p.
stream ecosystems, litter decomposition, species evenness, species traits, spatial-temporal variability, path analyses
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-82868DOI: 10.1111/1365-2656.12142ISI: 000331469200015OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-82868DiVA: diva2:663622
FunderSwedish Research Council, 621-2006-375