Biodiversity Functions

Biodiversity is critical for the functioning of ecosystems; despite extensive research, however, new pressing questions need to be answered and novel theory has to be developed regarding the scaling of biodiversity effects. It is essential to understand how different facets of biodiversity, ranging from genes to species interactions, affect ecosystem functions.

Most theory and information on biodiversity’s influence on ecosystem functions stems from small experimental plots, and the challenge now is to understand how local interactions and variation in abiotic parameters and species turnover scale up to influence landscape-level relationships between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. Recent work by iDiv researchers integrated biome-scale data to address these questions and stressed the key role of multitrophic interactions in driving the multifunctionality of ecosystems. iDiv’s new experimental platforms, such as the Ecotron and MyDiv, will enable us to study the consequences of variation in horizontal (i.e. diversity within one trophic level) and vertical diversity (i.e. diversity across trophic levels) for ecosystem functions and services.

Further, platforms like the GCEF and global networks of experiments will allow to study impacts of human-driven environmental and climate change on the future relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. Answers to these questions are crucial to understanding the mechanisms behind the relationships between biodiversity, ecosystem functioning and service provisioning, and to bridge experimental results, ecological theory, management-relevant scales, and societal needs.

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