Consumer versus resource control of species diversity and ecosystem functioning

Worm, Boris, Lotze, H. K., Hillebrand, Helmut and Sommer, Ulrich (2002) Consumer versus resource control of species diversity and ecosystem functioning Nature Geoscience, 417 . pp. 848-851. DOI 10.1038/nature00830.

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A key question in ecology is which factors control species diversity in a community1, 2, 3. Two largely separate groups of ecologists have emphasized the importance of productivity or resource supply, and consumers or physical disturbance, respectively. These variables show unimodal relationships with diversity when manipulated in isolation4, 5, 6, 7, 8. Recent multivariate models9, 10, however, predict that these factors interact, such that the disturbance–diversity relationship depends on productivity, and vice versa. We tested these models in marine food webs, using field manipulations of nutrient resources and consumer pressure on rocky shores of contrasting productivity. Here we show that the effects of consumers and nutrients on diversity consistently depend on each other, and that the direction of their effects and peak diversity shift between sites of low and high productivity. Factorial meta-analysis of published experiments confirms these results across widely varying aquatic communities. Furthermore, our experiments demonstrate that these patterns extend to important ecosystem functions such as carbon storage and nitrogen retention. This suggests that human impacts on nutrient supply11 and food-web structure12, 13 have strong and interdependent effects on species diversity and ecosystem functioning, and must therefore be managed together.

Document Type: Article
Research affiliation: OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB3 Marine Ecology > FB3-EOE-N Experimental Ecology - Food Webs
Refereed: Yes
DOI etc.: 10.1038/nature00830
ISSN: 1752-0894
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2009 13:52
Last Modified: 28 Feb 2017 10:26

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