Biodiversity effects on ecosystem functioning respond unimodally to environmental stress

Jan Baert, Nico Eisenhauer, C. JANSSEN, Frédérik De Laender

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Abstract

Understanding how biodiversity (B) affects ecosystem functioning (EF) is essential for assessing the consequences of ongoing biodiversity changes. An increasing number of studies, however, show that environmental conditions affect the shape of BEF relationships. Here, we first use a game-theoretic community model to reveal that a unimodal response of the BEF slope can be expected along environmental stress gradients, but also how the ecological mechanisms underlying this response may vary depending on how stress affects species interactions. Next, we analysed a global dataset of 44 experiments that crossed biodiversity with environmental conditions. Confirming our main model prediction, the effect of biodiversity on ecosystem functioning tends to be greater at intermediate levels of environmental stress, but varies among studies corresponding to differences in stress-effects on species interactions. Together, these results suggest that increases in stress from ongoing global environmental changes may amplify the consequences of biodiversity changes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1191-1199
Number of pages9
JournalEcology Letters
Volume21
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2018

Keywords

  • Stress
  • biodiversity
  • community model
  • meta-analysis
  • plant communities

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