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Biodiversity, Ecosystem Functioning, and Human WellbeingAn Ecological and Economic Perspective$
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Shahid Naeem, Daniel E. Bunker, Andy Hector, Michel Loreau, and Charles Perrings

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199547951

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199547951.001.0001

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Towards a food web perspective on biodiversity and ecosystem functioning

Towards a food web perspective on biodiversity and ecosystem functioning

(p.105) 8 Towards a food web perspective on biodiversity and ecosystem functioning
Biodiversity, Ecosystem Functioning, and Human Wellbeing

Bradley Cardinale

Emmett Duffy

Diane Srivastava

Michel Loreau

Matt Thomas

Mark Emmerson

Oxford University Press

While one of the most striking features of our planet is its great variety of life, studies show that ongoing biodiversity loss could reduce the productivity of ecosystems by as much as 50%. However, evidence comes largely from experiments that have used highly simplified communities with on average seven species, all from a single trophic group. In contrast, natural communities have dozens, if not hundreds, of species spanning a variety of trophic levels. Would this additional complexity alter our conclusions about the functional consequences of diversity loss? This chapter reviews five hypotheses about how the fluxes of energy and matter through food-webs might depend on the diversity of species interacting within, as well as across trophic levels. After outlining the empirical support for or against each hypothesis, this chapter discusses several avenues of research that may prove useful as ecologists move towards a food web perspective on biodiversity and ecosystem functioning

Keywords:   trophic cascade, top-down verses bottom-up, trophic complexity, network theory, ecosystem stability

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