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Spatial heterogeneity increases the importance of species richness for an ecosystem process

Spatial heterogeneity increases the importance of species richness for an ecosystem process
Spatial heterogeneity increases the importance of species richness for an ecosystem process
The role of biodiversity in mediating ecosystem processes has been the subject of focused theoretical and empirical attention since the mid-1990s. Theory predicts that the balance between species richness and identity effects will critically depend on the degree of environmental heterogeneity, which dictates the extent to which differences between species in patterns of resource use can be expressed. We conducted a mesocosm experiment to explicitly test this hypothesis. We manipulated the richness and identity of intertidal molluscan grazers, as well as the spatial heterogeneity of the substrate upon which they grazed. The magnitude of algal consumption was used as our focal ecosystem process. The grazer treatments consisted of three monocultures and a single polyculture including all three species; heterogeneity was represented as the proportion of topographically complex and flat substrate. Species identity had strong effects on homogeneous substrates, with the identity of the best-performing species dependent on the substrate. On the heterogeneous substrate, suitable conditions for all three species were represented, allowing the expression of spatial complementarity of resource use and the enhancement of total algal consumption. Our findings provide the first explicit experimental evidence that spatial heterogeneity of the physical environment can play a key role in mediating effects of species diversity.
0030-1299
1335-1342
Griffin, John N.
79938a80-7d40-4894-83e9-3e79fc312c71
Jenkins, Stuart R.
63f5521f-fe3a-4dae-b582-4a6a8d3aa936
Gamfeldt, Lars
bb4ecc12-ed66-41cc-94cb-5359c0a45bb6
Jones, Douglas
4e8b4493-f2e0-41f9-bba5-1fea0234d512
Hawkins, Stephen J.
758fe1c1-30cd-4ed1-bb65-2471dc7c11fa
Thompson, Richard C.
f439ea56-b6dd-48cf-8adb-d9c2ecc6e24d
Griffin, John N.
79938a80-7d40-4894-83e9-3e79fc312c71
Jenkins, Stuart R.
63f5521f-fe3a-4dae-b582-4a6a8d3aa936
Gamfeldt, Lars
bb4ecc12-ed66-41cc-94cb-5359c0a45bb6
Jones, Douglas
4e8b4493-f2e0-41f9-bba5-1fea0234d512
Hawkins, Stephen J.
758fe1c1-30cd-4ed1-bb65-2471dc7c11fa
Thompson, Richard C.
f439ea56-b6dd-48cf-8adb-d9c2ecc6e24d

Griffin, John N., Jenkins, Stuart R., Gamfeldt, Lars, Jones, Douglas, Hawkins, Stephen J. and Thompson, Richard C. (2009) Spatial heterogeneity increases the importance of species richness for an ecosystem process. Oikos, 118 (9), 1335-1342. (doi:10.1111/j.1600-0706.2009.17572.x).

Record type: Article

Abstract

The role of biodiversity in mediating ecosystem processes has been the subject of focused theoretical and empirical attention since the mid-1990s. Theory predicts that the balance between species richness and identity effects will critically depend on the degree of environmental heterogeneity, which dictates the extent to which differences between species in patterns of resource use can be expressed. We conducted a mesocosm experiment to explicitly test this hypothesis. We manipulated the richness and identity of intertidal molluscan grazers, as well as the spatial heterogeneity of the substrate upon which they grazed. The magnitude of algal consumption was used as our focal ecosystem process. The grazer treatments consisted of three monocultures and a single polyculture including all three species; heterogeneity was represented as the proportion of topographically complex and flat substrate. Species identity had strong effects on homogeneous substrates, with the identity of the best-performing species dependent on the substrate. On the heterogeneous substrate, suitable conditions for all three species were represented, allowing the expression of spatial complementarity of resource use and the enhancement of total algal consumption. Our findings provide the first explicit experimental evidence that spatial heterogeneity of the physical environment can play a key role in mediating effects of species diversity.

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Published date: September 2009

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 187795
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/187795
ISSN: 0030-1299
PURE UUID: 19ed33a2-1391-4030-85c0-b57aa1ebc3e0

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Date deposited: 18 May 2011 10:59
Last modified: 21 Oct 2019 19:37

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