|Cedar Creek Natural History Area: Literature||Up Home|
Citation. Hooper, D.U.; Chapin, F.S.; Ewel, J.J.; Hector, A.; Inchausti, P.; Lavorel, S.; Lawton, J.H.; Lodge, D.M.; Loreau, M.; Naeem, S.; Schmid, B.; Setala, H.; Symstad, A.J.; Vandermeer, J.; Wardle, D.A. 2005. Effects of biodiversity on ecosystem functioning: A consensus of current knowledge. ECOLOGICAL MONOGRAPHS 75:3-35.
Abstract. Humans are altering the composition of biological communities through a variety of
activities that increase rates of species invasions and species extinctions, at all scales,
from local to global. These changes in components of the Earth's biodiversity cause
concern for ethical and aesthetic reasons, but they also have a strong potential to alter
ecosystem properties and the goods and services they provide to humanity. Ecological
experiments, observations, and theoretical developments show that ecosystem properties
depend greatly on biodiversity in terms of the functional characteristics of organisms
present in the ecosystem and the distribution and abundance of those organisms over
space and time. Species effects act in concert with the effects of climate, resource
availability, and disturbance regimes in influencing ecosystem properties. Human activities can modify all of the above factors; here we focus on modification of these biotic controls. The scientific community has come to a broad consensus on many aspects of the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, including many points relevant to management of ecosystems. Further progress will require integration of knowledge about biotic and abiotic controls on ecosystem properties, how ecological communities are structured, and the forces driving species extinctions and invasions. To strengthen links to policy and management, we also need to integrate our ecological knowledge with understanding of the social and economic constraints of potential management practices. Understanding this complexity, while taking strong steps to minimize current losses of species, is necessary for responsible management of Earth's
ecosystems and the diverse biota they contain. Based on our review of the scientific literature, we are certain of the following conclusions:
1) Species' functional characteristics strongly influence ecosystem properties. Functional characteristics operate in a variety of contexts, including effects of dominant species, keystone species, ecological engineers, and interactions among species (e.g., competition, facilitation, mutualism, disease, and predation). Relative abundance alone is not always a good predictor of the ecosystem-level importance of a species, as even relatively rare species (e.g., a keystone predator) can strongly influence pathways of energy and material flows.
2) Alteration of biota in ecosystems via species invasions and extinctions caused by human activities has altered ecosystem goods and services in many well-documented cases. Many of these changes are difficult, expensive, or impossible to reverse or fix with technological solutions.
3) The effects of species loss or changes in composition, and the mechanisms by which
the effects manifest themselves, can differ among ecosystem properties, ecosystem types,
and pathways of potential community change.