Biodiversity mediates the effects of stressors but not nutrients on litter decomposition

Léa Beaumelle, Frederik DE LAENDER, Nico Eisenhauer

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Abstract

Understanding the consequences of ongoing biodiversity changes for ecosystems is a pressing challenge. Controlled biodiversity-ecosystem function experiments with random biodiversity loss scenarios have demonstrated that more diverse communities usually provide higher levels of ecosystem functioning. However, it is not clear if these results predict the ecosystem consequences of environmental changes that cause non-random alterations in biodiversity and community composition. We synthesized 69 independent studies reporting 660 observations of the impacts of two pervasive drivers of global change (chemical stressors and nutrient enrichment) on animal and microbial decomposer diversity and litter decomposition. Using meta-analysis and structural equation modelling, we show that declines in decomposer diversity and abundance explain reduced litter decomposition in response to stressors but not to nutrients. While chemical stressors generally reduced biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, detrimental effects of nutrients occurred only at high levels of nutrient inputs. Thus, more intense environmental change does not always result in stronger responses, illustrating the complexity of ecosystem consequences of biodiversity change. Overall, these findings provide strong evidence that the consequences of observed biodiversity change for ecosystems depend on the kind of environmental change, and are especially significant when human activities decrease biodiversity.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere55659
Pages (from-to)1-40
Number of pages40
JournaleLife
Volume9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jun 2020

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  • Projects

    sDiv PostDoc of Léa Beaumelle

    Beaumelle, L., DE LAENDER, F. & Eisenhauer, N.

    Project: Research

    Activities

    • 1 Oral presentation

    Biodiversity, environmental change, and ecosystem function

    Frédérik De Laender (Speaker)

    16 Jun 2017

    Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation

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