L Delalandre, P Gauzere, W Thuiller, M Cadotte, N, Mouquet, D Mouillot, F Munoz, P Denelle, N Loiseau, X Morin, C Violle (2022)

Proceedings of the Royal Society B doi:10.1098/rspb.2021.1694

Key message : To investigate how distinct species affect ecosystem productivity, we used a forest-gap model to simulate realistic temperate forest successions along an environmental gradient and measured ecosystem productivity at the end of the successional trajectories. We used different sets and numbers of species, bearing either distinct or indistinct functional traits, and compared them to random assemblages. Long-term ecosystem productivity dropped when distinct species were lost first from the regional pool of species, under the harshest environmental conditions. On the contrary, productivity was more dependent on ordinary species in milder environments. Our findings show that species functional distinctiveness, integrating multiple trait dimensions, can capture species-specific effects on ecosystem productivity.

Conceptual framework of the study. (a) Six species are located in a two-dimensional functional trait space. Ordinary species (blue background) are those located in the centre of the distribution in that space, whereas distinct species (red background, clover shape) are away from that centre. (b) Diagram showing the expected level of ecosystem property as biodiversity declines, in the hypothesis that distinct phenotypes support important functions in the ecosystem. Orders of species loss are distinct first (a), ordinary first (b) or random (c).

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OTHER TOPICS: Aesthetics of Biodiversity, Biodiversity & Ecosystem Functioning, Biogeography, Macroecology & Ecophylogenetics, Experimental Evolution, Functional Biogeography, Functional Rarity, Metacommunities, Metaecosystems, Reviews and Synthesis, Trophic Biogeography & Metaweb