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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Long-Term and Large-Scale Perspectives on the Relationship Between Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning

Authors
item Symstad, Amy - IL NATURAL HIST SURVEY
item Chapin, F - UNIVERSITY OF ALASKA
item Wall, Diana - COLORADO STATE UNIV
item Gross, Katherine - MICHIGAN STATE UNIV
item Huenneke, Laura - NEW MEXICO STATE UNIV
item Mittelbach, Gary - MICHIGAN STATE UNIV
item PETERS, DEBRA
item Tilman, G - UNIV OF MINNESOTA

Submitted to: Bioscience
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: September 17, 2002
Publication Date: January 1, 2003
Citation: SYMSTAD, A.J., CHAPIN, F.S., WALL, D.H., GROSS, K.L., HUENNEKE, L.F., MITTELBACH, G.G., PETERS, D.C., TILMAN, G.D. LONG-TERM AND LARGE-SCALE PERSPECTIVES ON THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN BIODIVERSITY AND ECOSYSTEM FUNCTIONING. BIOSCIENCE. 2003. V. 53(1). P. 89-98.

Interpretive Summary: A growing body of literature from LTER and other sites shows strong evidence that various components of biodiversity affect ecosystem functioning in a variety of ecosystems when conditions are highly controlled. The LTER studies described in this paper illustrate how long-term and cross-scale research projects are particularly important for addressing temporal and spatial scale issues that are difficult or impossible to address in these highly controlled situations. Examples are given from a number of LTER sites, including the Dry Valleys of Antarctica, two ARS sites (Jornada Experimental Range, Central Plains Experimental Range), several Forest Service sites, and others. This synthetic analysis of multiple ecosystem types shows that the effects of biodiversity on ecosystem function varies over time and space.

Technical Abstract: A growing body of literature from a variety of ecosystems shows strong evidence that various components of biodiversity have significant impacts on ecosystem functioning. However, much of this evidence comes from short-term, small-scale experiments in which communities are synthesized from relatively small species pools and conditions are highly controlled. Extrapolation of the results of such experiments to longer time and larger spatial scales¿-those of whole ecosystems¿-is difficult because the experiments do not incorporate natural processes such as recruitment limitation and colonization of new species. In this section of this special feature on the Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) network, we show how long-term study of planned and accidental changes in species richness and composition suggests that the effects of biodiversity on ecosystem functioning will vary over time and space. More importantly, we also highlight areas of uncertainty that need to be addressed through coordinated, cross-scale and cross-site research.

Last Modified: 8/19/2014
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