Thursday, 13 October 2016
The importance of ecosystem diversity (#journal)
This article reviews over two decades of experiments that have examined how species richness of primary producers influences the suite of ecological processes that are controlled by plants and algae in terrestrial, marine, and freshwater ecosystems. Using formal meta-analyses, we assess the balance of evidence for eight fundamental questions and corresponding hypotheses about the functional role of producer diversity in ecosystems. These include questions about how primary producer diversity influences the efficiency of resource use and biomass production in ecosystems, how primary producer diversity influences the transfer and recycling of biomass to other trophic groups in a food web, and the number of species and spatial /temporal scales at which diversity effects are most apparent. After summarizing the balance of evidence and stating our own confidence in the conclusions, we outline several new questions that must now be addressed.