A universal scaling method for biodiversity-ecosystem functioning relationships

K.E. Barry, G.A. Pinter, J.W. Strini, K. Yang, I.G. Lauko, S.A. Schnitzer, A.T. Clark, J. Cowles, A.S. Mori, L. Williams, P.B. Reich, and A.J. Wright

Jun 13, 2019

Received Date: 9th April 19

Global biodiversity is declining at rates faster than at any other point in human history. Experimental manipulations of biodiversity at small spatial scales have demonstrated that communities with fewer species consistently produce less biomass than higher diversity communities. However, understanding how the global extinction crisis is likely to impact global ecosystem functioning will require applying these local and largely experimental findings to natural systems at substantially larger spatial and temporal scales. Here we propose that we can use two simple macroecological patterns – the species area curve and the biomass-area curve – to upscale the species richness-biomass relationship. We demonstrate that at local spatial scales, each additional species will contribute more to biomass production with increasing area sampled because the species-area curve saturates and the biomass-area curve increases monotonically. We use species-area and biomass-area curves from a Minnesota grassland and a Panamanian tropical dry forest to examine the species richness – biomass relationship at three and ten sampling extents, respectively. In both datasets, the observed relationship between biodiversity and biomass production at every sampling extent was predicted from simple species-area and biomass-area relationships. These findings suggest that macroecological patterns like the species-area curve underpin the scaling of biodiversity-ecosystem functioning research and can be used to predict these relationships at the global scales where they are relevant for species loss.

Read in full at bioRxiv.

This is an abstract of a preprint hosted on an independent third party site. It has not been peer reviewed but is currently under consideration at Nature Communications.

Nature Communications

Nature Research, Springer Nature