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    An improved model to predict the effects of changing biodiversity levels on ecosystem function

    Connolly, John and Bell, Thomas and Bolger, Thomas and Brophy, Caroline and Carnus, Tim and Finn, John Anthony and Kirwan, Laura and Isbell, Forest and Levine, Jonathan and Luscher, Andreas and Picasso, Valentin and Roscher, Christiane and Sebastia, M.-Teresa and Suter, Matthias and Weigelt, Alexandra (2013) An improved model to predict the effects of changing biodiversity levels on ecosystem function. Journal of Ecology, 101 (2). pp. 344-355. ISSN 0022-0477

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    The development of models of the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem function (BEF) has advanced rapidly over the last 20 years, incorporating insights gained through extensive experimental work. We propose Generalised Diversity‐Interactions models that include many of the features of existing models and have several novel features. Generalised Diversity‐Interactions models characterise the contribution of two species to ecosystem function as being proportional to the product of their relative abundances raised to the power of a coefficient θ. A value of θ < 1 corresponds to a stronger than expected contribution of species' pairs to ecosystem functioning, particularly at low relative abundance of species. Varying the value of θ has profound consequences for community‐level properties of BEF relationships, including: (i) saturation properties of the BEF relationship; (ii) the stability of ecosystem function across communities; (iii) the likelihood of transgressive overyielding. For low values of θ, loss of species can have a much greater impact on ecosystem functioning than loss of community evenness. Generalised Diversity‐Interactions models serve to unify the modelling of BEF relationships as they include several other current models as special cases. Generalised Diversity‐Interactions models were applied to seven data sets and three functions: total biomass (five grassland experiments), community respiration (one bacterial experiment) and nitrate leaching (one earthworm experiment). They described all the nonrandom structure in the data in six experiments, and most of it in the seventh experiment and so fit as well or better than competing BEF models for these data. They were significantly better than Diversity‐Interactions models in five experiments. Synthesis. We show that Generalized Diversity‐Interactions models quantitatively integrate several methods that separately address effects of species richness, evenness and composition on ecosystem function. They describe empirical data at least as well as alternative models and improve the ability to quantitatively test among several theoretical and practical hypotheses about the effects of biodiversity levels on ecosystem function. They improve our understanding of important aspects of the relationship between biodiversity (evenness and richness) and ecosystem function (BEF), which include saturation, effects of species loss, the stability of ecosystem function and the incidence of transgressive overyielding.

    Item Type: Article
    Additional Information: The publication was supported by Science Foundation Ireland under Grant Number 09/RFP/EOB2546, by the Jena Experiment (DFG, FOR 459), the Swiss initiative, by the European Community's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under the grant agreements FP7-266018 (AnimalChange) and FP7-244983 (MultiSward). Our thanks to Chaeho Byun for assistance in resolving problems with R software and to anonymous reviewers and an editor for insightful and helpful comments.
    Keywords: biodiversity; complementarity; diversity manipulations; ecosystem function; ecosystem services; evenness and richness; Generalised Diversity-Interactions models; saturation; species loss and extinctions; stability; transgressive overyielding;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Science and Engineering > Mathematics and Statistics
    Item ID: 10146
    Identification Number:
    Depositing User: Dr. Caroline Brophy
    Date Deposited: 23 Oct 2018 15:44
    Journal or Publication Title: Journal of Ecology
    Publisher: Wiley
    Refereed: Yes
    Use Licence: This item is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike Licence (CC BY-NC-SA). Details of this licence are available here

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