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Animal diversity and ecosystem functioning in dynamic food webs

  • Species diversity is changing globally and locally, but the complexity of ecological communities hampers a general understanding of the consequences of animal species loss on ecosystem functioning. High animal diversity increases complementarity of herbivores but also increases feeding rates within the consumer guild. Depending on the balance of these counteracting mechanisms, species-rich animal communities may put plants under top-down control or may release them from grazing pressure. Using a dynamic food-web model with body-mass constraints, we simulate ecosystem functions of 20,000 communities of varying animal diversity. We show that diverse animal communities accumulate more biomass and are more exploitative on plants, despite their higher rates of intra-guild predation. However, they do not reduce plant biomass because the communities are composed of larger, and thus energetically more efficient, plant and animal species. This plasticity of community body-size structure reconciles the debate on the consequences of animalSpecies diversity is changing globally and locally, but the complexity of ecological communities hampers a general understanding of the consequences of animal species loss on ecosystem functioning. High animal diversity increases complementarity of herbivores but also increases feeding rates within the consumer guild. Depending on the balance of these counteracting mechanisms, species-rich animal communities may put plants under top-down control or may release them from grazing pressure. Using a dynamic food-web model with body-mass constraints, we simulate ecosystem functions of 20,000 communities of varying animal diversity. We show that diverse animal communities accumulate more biomass and are more exploitative on plants, despite their higher rates of intra-guild predation. However, they do not reduce plant biomass because the communities are composed of larger, and thus energetically more efficient, plant and animal species. This plasticity of community body-size structure reconciles the debate on the consequences of animal species loss for primary productivity.show moreshow less

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Metadaten
Author:Florian D. Schneider, Ulrich Brose, Björn C. Rall, Christian Guill
DOI:https://doi.org/10.1038/ncomms12718
ISSN:2041-1723
Pubmed Id:http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=27703157
Parent Title (English):Nature Communications
Publisher:Nature Publ. Group
Place of publication:London
Document Type:Article
Language:English
Year of first Publication:2016
Year of Completion:2016
Release Date:2020/03/22
Volume:7
Pagenumber:8
First Page:3129
Last Page:3138
Funder:Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt [20008/995]; Leopoldina Fellowship Programme [LPDS 2012-07]; German Centre for integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig - German Research Foundation [FZT 118]
Organizational units:Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Fakultät / Institut für Biochemie und Biologie
Peer Review:Referiert