How biological diversity influences ecosystem function: a test with a tropical stream detritivore guild

Boyero, Luz, Pearson, Richard G., and Bastian, Mikis (2007) How biological diversity influences ecosystem function: a test with a tropical stream detritivore guild. Ecological Research, 22 (4). pp. 551-558.

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We investigated the relationship between diversity and ecosystem function, which is controversial and has rarely been examined for consumer assemblages, for the process of leaf breakdown by the shredder guild in a tropical stream. We manipulated species richness, evenness and identity of four macroinvertebrate shredder species (three caddisflies and one mayfly) in microcosms and tested their effect on leaf breakdown rates measured as leaf mass loss per capita and per milligram of animal. Species richness, evenness and species identity all affected leaf breakdown rates. Breakdown rates tended to increase with higher richness, but only for the three caddisflies, probably through a release of intraspecific interference, although other mechanisms such as niche complementarity or facilitation cannot be discarded. Leaf breakdown by the caddisflies was reduced in the presence of the mayfly, possibly because of its mode of movement by swimming instead of crawling and its similarity to some predators that are common in leaf litter. Species identity was more important than species richness in determining leaf breakdown rates, indicating that some species within the shredder guild are not redundant, and suggesting important consequences of particular species loss for the functioning of the ecosystem.

Item ID: 2319
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1440-1703
Keywords: evenness; leaf breakdown; shredders; species identity; species richness
Date Deposited: 10 Jun 2009 22:59
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060204 Freshwater Ecology @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960806 Forest and Woodlands Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
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