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Specific arrangements of species dominance can be more influential than evenness in maintaining ecosystem process and function

Specific arrangements of species dominance can be more influential than evenness in maintaining ecosystem process and function
Specific arrangements of species dominance can be more influential than evenness in maintaining ecosystem process and function
The ecological consequences of species loss are widely studied, but represent an end point of environmental forcing that is not always realised. Changes in species evenness and the rank order of dominant species are more widespread responses to directional forcing. However, despite the repercussions for ecosystem functioning such changes have received little attention. Here, we experimentally assess how the rearrangement of species dominance structure within specific levels of evenness, rather than changes in species richness and composition, affect invertebrate particle reworking and burrow ventilation behaviour - important moderators of microbial-mediated remineralisation processes in benthic environments - and associated levels of sediment nutrient release. We find that the most dominant species exert a disproportionate influence on functioning at low levels of evenness, but that changes in biomass distribution and a change in emphasis in species-environmental interactions become more important in governing system functionality as evenness increases. Our study highlights the need to consider the functional significance of alterations to community attributes, rather than to solely focus on the attainment of particular levels of diversity when safeguarding biodiversity and ecosystems that provide essential services to society.
1-8
Wohlgemuth, Daniel
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Solan, Martin
c28b294a-1db6-4677-8eab-bd8d6221fecf
Godbold, Jasmin A.
df6da569-e7ea-43ca-8a95-a563829fb88a
Wohlgemuth, Daniel
ec239ea9-8600-4930-af70-7feb22b78004
Solan, Martin
c28b294a-1db6-4677-8eab-bd8d6221fecf
Godbold, Jasmin A.
df6da569-e7ea-43ca-8a95-a563829fb88a

Wohlgemuth, Daniel, Solan, Martin and Godbold, Jasmin A. (2016) Specific arrangements of species dominance can be more influential than evenness in maintaining ecosystem process and function. Scientific Reports, 6, 1-8, [39325]. (doi:10.1038/srep39325).

Record type: Article

Abstract

The ecological consequences of species loss are widely studied, but represent an end point of environmental forcing that is not always realised. Changes in species evenness and the rank order of dominant species are more widespread responses to directional forcing. However, despite the repercussions for ecosystem functioning such changes have received little attention. Here, we experimentally assess how the rearrangement of species dominance structure within specific levels of evenness, rather than changes in species richness and composition, affect invertebrate particle reworking and burrow ventilation behaviour - important moderators of microbial-mediated remineralisation processes in benthic environments - and associated levels of sediment nutrient release. We find that the most dominant species exert a disproportionate influence on functioning at low levels of evenness, but that changes in biomass distribution and a change in emphasis in species-environmental interactions become more important in governing system functionality as evenness increases. Our study highlights the need to consider the functional significance of alterations to community attributes, rather than to solely focus on the attainment of particular levels of diversity when safeguarding biodiversity and ecosystems that provide essential services to society.

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Accepted/In Press date: 22 November 2016
e-pub ahead of print date: 20 December 2016
Published date: 20 December 2016
Organisations: Ocean and Earth Science

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 404252
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/404252
PURE UUID: ccae970d-9e45-4cdd-bf02-28e232356885
ORCID for Martin Solan: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-9924-5574
ORCID for Jasmin A. Godbold: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-5558-8188

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Date deposited: 05 Jan 2017 10:12
Last modified: 09 Jan 2022 03:38

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Contributors

Author: Daniel Wohlgemuth
Author: Martin Solan ORCID iD

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