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ARS Home » Plains Area » Temple, Texas » Grassland Soil and Water Research Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #332408

Research Project: Development and Evaluation of Sustainable Crop and Grassland Production Systems

Location: Grassland Soil and Water Research Laboratory

Title: Local loss and spatial homogenization of plant diversity reduce ecosystem multifunctionality

Author
item HAUTIER, YANN - Utrecht University
item ISBELL, FOREST - University Of Minnesota
item BORER, ELIZABETH - University Of Minnesota
item SEABLOOM, ERIC - University Of Minnesota
item HARPOLE, W - Helmholtz Centre For Environmental Research
item LIND, ERIC - University Of Minnesota
item MACDOUGALL, ANDREW - University Of Guelph
item STEVENS, CARLY - Consejo Nacional De Investigaciones Científicas Y Técnicas(CONICET)
item ADLER, PETER - Utah State University
item ALBERTI, JUAN - Consejo Nacional De Investigaciones Científicas Y Técnicas(CONICET)
item BAKKER, JONATHAN - University Of Washington
item BRUDVIG, LARS - Michigan State University
item BUCKLEY, YVONNE - Trinity College
item CADOTTE, MARC - University Of Toronto
item CALDEIRA, MARIA - University Of Lisbon
item CHANETON, ENRIQUE - Universidad De Buenos Aires
item CHU, CHENGJIN - Lanzhou University
item DALEO, PEDRO - Consejo Nacional De Investigaciones Científicas Y Técnicas(CONICET)
item DICKMAN, CHRISTOPHER - University Of Sydney
item DWYER, JOHN - University Of Queensland
item ESKELINEN, ANU - Helmholtz Centre For Environmental Research
item Fay, Philip
item FIRN, JENNIFER - Queensland University Of Technology
item HAGENAH, NICOLE - University Of Kwazulu-Natal
item HILLEBRAND, HELMUT - Carl von Ossietzky University Of Oldenburg
item IRBARNE, OSCAR - Consejo Nacional De Investigaciones Científicas Y Técnicas(CONICET)
item KIRKMAN, KEVIN - University Of Kwazulu-Natal
item KNOPS, JOHANNES - University Of Nebraska
item LA PIERRE, KIMBERLY - University Of California
item MCCULLEY, REBECCA - University Of Kentucky
item MORGAN, JOHN - La Trobe University
item PARTEL, MEELIS - University Of Tartu
item PASCUAL, JESUS - Consejo Nacional De Investigaciones Científicas Y Técnicas(CONICET)
item PRICE, JODI - Charles Sturt University
item PROBER, SUZANNE - Commonwealth Scientific And Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO)
item RISCH, ANITA - Swiss Federal Institute
item SANKARAN, MAHESH - University Of Leeds
item SCHUETZ, MARTIN - Swiss Federal Institute
item STANDISH, RACHEL - Murdoch University
item VIRTANEN, RISTO - Helmholtz Centre For Environmental Research
item WARDLE, GLENDA - University Of Sydney
item YAHDJIAN, LAURA - Consejo Nacional De Investigaciones Científicas Y Técnicas(CONICET)
item HECTOR, ANDY - University Of Oxford

Submitted to: Nature Ecology and Evolution
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/25/2017
Publication Date: 1/25/2018
Citation: Hautier, Y., Isbell, F., Borer, E., Seabloom, E.W., Harpole, W.S., Lind, E.M., MacDougall, A.S., Stevens, C.J., Adler, P.B., Alberti, J., Bakker, J.D., Brudvig, L., Buckley, Y.M., Cadotte, M.W., Caldeira, M.C., Chaneton, E.J., Chu, C., Daleo, P., Dickman, C.R., Dwyer, J.M., Eskelinen, A., Fay, P.A., Firn, J., Hagenah, N., Hillebrand, H., Irbarne, O., Kirkman, K.P., Knops, J.M., La Pierre, K., McCulley, R.L., Morgan, J.W., Partel, M., Pascual, J., Price, J.N., Prober, S.M., Risch, A.C., Sankaran, M., Schuetz, M., Standish, R.J., Virtanen, R., Wardle, G.M., Yahdjian, L., Hector, A. 2018. Local loss and spatial homogenization of plant diversity reduce ecosystem multifunctionality. Nature Ecology and Evolution. 2(1):50-56.

Interpretive Summary: Ecosystems provide many important services to people - food, fiber, clean water among many others. It is widely held that with more species present in an ecosystem, more services are provided, and this is one of the main arguments for restoring biodiversity to landscapes where it has been reduced by human activities and to maintain it where it still exists. To make rational policy decisions related to biodiversity, it is crucial to understand what factors control how diversity and ecosystem service provision are related. In particular the crucial question of whether having a high total number of species, or whether having different species from place to place, such as from one end of a pasture to the other, matters more to maximizing ecosystem service provision, remains uncertain. This paper presents a global analysis of eight ecosystem processes directly related to ecosystem services measured in 65 grasslands worldwide. We found that grasslands that had more species and high differences in species composition from place to place among local communities also had high measures of more processes related to ecosystem services. The identity of the influential species differed between ecosystem processes and among local communities, explaining why more diverse communities maintained ecosystem functioning when a wider range of processes and local communities were considered. These results were general across grasslands. This research is important for land management policy, because it indicates that policies need to encourage high local species numbers and changing species identity across landscapes to assure provision of the multiple services provided by grassland ecosystems.

Technical Abstract: Experimental studies show that local plant species loss decreases ecosystem functioning and services, but it remains unclear how other changes in biodiversity, such as spatial homogenization, alter multiple processes (multifunctionality) in natural ecosystems. We present a global analysis of eight ecosystem processes measured in 65 grasslands worldwide. We find that more diverse plant communities – which had many species locally and high differences in species composition among local communities (alpha and beta diversity) – also had higher levels of multifunctionality. The identity of the species influencing ecosystem functioning differed between ecosystem processes and among local communities, explaining why more diverse communities maintained ecosystem functioning when a wider range of processes and local communities were considered. These results were general across grasslands worldwide and robust to variation in both biotic and abiotic drivers. Our findings reveal that plant diversity at both local and landscape scales maintains the multiple services provided by grassland ecosystems. Preserving ecosystem functioning therefore requires avoiding both local losses and spatial homogenization of biodiversity.