Biodiversity increases functional and compositional resistance, but decreases resilience in phytoplankton communities

Jan M. Baert, Frederik De Laender, Koen Sabbe, Colin R. Janssen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

There is now ample evidence that biodiversity stabilizes aggregated ecosystem functions, such as primary production, in changing environments. In primary producer systems, this stabilizing effect is found to be driven by higher functional resistance (i.e., reduced changes in functions by environmental changes) rather than through higher functional resilience (i.e., rapid recovery following environmental changes) in more diverse systems. The stability of aggregated ecosystem functions directly depends on changes in species composition and by consequence their functional contributions to ecosystem functions. Still, it remains only theoretically explored how biodiversity can stabilize ecosystem functions by affecting compositional stability. Here, we demonstrate how biodiversity effects on compositional stability drive biodiversity effects on functional stability in diatom communities. In a microcosm experiment, we exposed 39 communities of five different levels of species richness (1, 2, 4, 6, and 8 species) to three concentrations of a chemical stressor (0, 25, and 250 μg/L atrazine) for four weeks, after which all communities were transferred to atrazine-free medium for three more weeks. Biodiversity simultaneously increased, increasing functional and compositional resistance, but decreased functional and compositional resilience. These results confirm the theoretically proposed link between biodiversity effects on functional and compositional stability in primary producer systems, and provide a mechanistic underpinning for observed biodiversity-stability relationships. Finally, we discuss how higher compositional stability can be expected to become increasingly important in stabilizing ecosystem functions under field conditions when multiple environmental stressors fluctuate simultaneously.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3433-3440
Number of pages8
JournalEcology
Volume97
Issue number12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2016

Keywords

  • Atrazine
  • Diatoms
  • Ecosystem functions
  • Evenness
  • Herbicide
  • Primary production
  • Stability

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