Functional identity and diversity of animals predict ecosystem functioning better than species-based indices

Vesna Gagic, Ignasi Bartomeus*, Tomas Jonsson, Astrid Taylor, Camilla Winqvist, Christina Fischer, Eleanor M. Slade, Ingolf Steffan-Dewenter, Mark Emmerson, Simon G. Potts, Teja Tscharntke, Wolfgang Weisser, Riccardo Bommarco

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

272 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Drastic biodiversity declines have raised concerns about the deterioration of ecosystem functions and have motivated much recent research on the relationship between species diversity and ecosystem functioning. A functional trait framework has been proposed to improve the mechanistic understanding of this relationship, but this has rarely been tested for organisms other than plants. We analysed eight datasets, including five animal groups, to examine how well a trait-based approach, compared with a more traditional taxonomic approach, predicts seven ecosystem functions below- and above-ground. Trait-based indices consistently provided greater explanatory power than species richness or abundance. The frequency distributions of single or multiple traits in the community were the best predictors of ecosystem functioning. This implies that the ecosystem functions we investigated were underpinned by the combination of trait identities (i.e. single-trait indices) and trait complementarity (i.e. multi-trait indices) in the communities. Our study provides new insights into the general mechanisms that link biodiversity to ecosystem functioning in natural animal communities and suggests that the observed responses were due to the identity and dominance patterns of the trait composition rather than the number or abundance of species per se.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20142620
Number of pages8
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences
Volume282
Issue number1801
Early online date07 Jan 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2015

Keywords

  • Biocontrol
  • Biodiversity
  • Dung removal
  • Functional traits
  • Nutrient cycling
  • Pollination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Medicine(all)

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    Gagic, V., Bartomeus, I., Jonsson, T., Taylor, A., Winqvist, C., Fischer, C., Slade, E. M., Steffan-Dewenter, I., Emmerson, M., Potts, S. G., Tscharntke, T., Weisser, W., & Bommarco, R. (2015). Functional identity and diversity of animals predict ecosystem functioning better than species-based indices. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences, 282(1801), [20142620]. https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2014.2620