Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning
- LAST REVIEWED: 31 August 2021
- LAST MODIFIED: 26 August 2013
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199830060-0126
- LAST REVIEWED: 31 August 2021
- LAST MODIFIED: 26 August 2013
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199830060-0126
In the field of ecology, biodiversity-ecosystem functioning (BEF) research is a relative newcomer. In 1991, one year before the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro at which 193 countries agreed to support the conservation of biological diversity, ecologists reviewed what was known about the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. The latter includes all the biogeochemical processes that operate in ecosystems, such as primary production. Since then, this synthesis of biodiversity studies and ecosystem ecology has become a major field in ecology, with hundreds of experiments manipulating diversity of more than five hundred types of organisms in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Meta-analyses of these experiments generally show a positive relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, a pattern that is consistent across trophic groups (producers, herbivores, predators) and ecosystems (terrestrial and aquatic). Primary research has moved on from a focus on the pattern (the relationship between biodiversity and an ecosystem function) to a search for a mechanistic understanding of the effects of biodiversity loss. Extrapolating the results of BEF research to ecosystem services at the landscape level is a major challenge for the future.
Schulze and Mooney 1993 gives an overview of the original hypotheses and ideas that laid the foundation for BEF research. Loreau, et al. 2002 includes chapters written by speakers from the second conference in 2000, designed to synthesize the first ten years of research. A summary of this synthesis is given in Loreau, et al. 2001. Kinzig, et al. 2002 provides new insights by linking the latest experimental results to a common theoretical framework. An important scientific consensus paper, after the heated debates that took place in the first decade of research (see History), is Hooper, et al. 2005. One of the first books to incorporate economics into BEF is Naeem, et al. 2009. A recent short and comprehensive overview is provided in Hector and Wilby 2009. Gessner, et al. 2010 is a recent review of biodiversity-litter decomposition studies, specifically comparing aquatic and terrestrial systems. A recent review, Cardinale, et al. 2012 provides six consensus statements and four emerging trends about biodiversity-ecosystem functioning relationships.
Cardinale, Brad J., J. Emmett Duffy, Andrew Gonzalez, et al. 2012. Biodiversity loss and its impact on humanity. Nature 486:59–67.
A recent, highly accessible review of twenty years of BEF research. Available online for purchase or by subscription.
Gessner, Mark O., Christopher M. Swan, Christian K. Dang, et al. 2010. Diversity meets decomposition. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 25:372–380.
A balanced review of the effects of biodiversity at different trophic levels involved with the decomposition of organic matter, a process that is very important for the dynamics of carbon and nutrients in ecosystems. Available online for purchase or by subscription.
Hector, Andrew, and Andy Wilby. 2009. Biodiversity and ecosystem function. In The Princeton guide to ecology. Edited by Simon A. Levin, 367–375. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.
An excellent introductory textbook to ecology for undergraduates and graduate students. Chapter 3.14 discusses BEF research.
Hooper, David U., F. Stuart Chapin, John J. Ewel, et al. 2005. Effects of biodiversity on ecosystem functioning: A consensus of current knowledge. Ecological Monographs 75:3–35.
An important attempt at consensus in BEF research. A good review as a starting point to the field for graduate students and researchers. Available online for purchase or by subscription.
Kinzig, Ann, Stephen W. Pacala, and David Tilman. 2002. The functional consequences of biodiversity: Empirical progress and theoretical extensions. Monographs in Population Biology 33. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.
This book from the well-known Princeton monograph series extended current knowledge by linking the latest empirical results to a set of theoretical approaches, including coexistence theory.
Loreau, Michel, Shahid Naeem, and Pablo Inchausti. 2002. Biodiversity and ecosystem functioning: Synthesis and perspectives. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.
Wide-ranging collection of overviews, position papers, and workshop reports of a conference synthesizing the first ten years of BEF research.
Loreau, Michel, Shahid Naeem, Pablo Inchausti, et al. 2001. Biodiversity and ecosystem functioning: Current knowledge and future challenges. Science 294:804–808.
A balanced and easy-to-read overview of the first ten years of BEF research and a good introduction to the topic for graduate students. Available online for purchase or by subscription.
Naeem, Shahid, Daniel E. Bunker, Andy Hector, Michel Loreau, and Charles Pennings. 2009. Biodiversity, ecosystem functioning, and human wellbeing: An ecological and economic perspective. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.
The follow-up to Loreau, et al. 2002. It gives an overview of the recent advances in BEF research and explores the economics of biodiversity and ecosystem services. Suitable for graduate students.
Schulze, Ernst-Detlef, and Harold A. Mooney. 1993. Biodiversity and ecosystem function. Berlin: Springer.
An influential book, which synthesized the ideas and hypotheses put forward at the first conference on the topic in 1991.
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- Accounting for Ecological Capital
- Adaptive Radiation
- Allocation of Reproductive Resources in Plants
- Animals, Functional Morphology of
- Animals, Reproductive Allocation in
- Animals, Thermoregulation in
- Antarctic Environments and Ecology
- Applied Ecology
- Aquatic Conservation
- Aquatic Nutrient Cycling
- Archaea, Ecology of
- Assembly Models
- Bacterial Diversity in Freshwater
- Benthic Ecology
- Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning
- Biodiversity Patterns in Agricultural Systms
- Biological Chaos and Complex Dynamics
- Biome, Alpine
- Biome, Boreal
- Biome, Desert
- Biome, Grassland
- Biome, Savanna
- Biome, Tundra
- Biomes, African
- Biomes, East Asian
- Biomes, Mountain
- Biomes, North American
- Biomes, South Asian
- Braun, E. Lucy
- Bryophyte Ecology
- Butterfly Ecology
- Carson, Rachel
- Chemical Ecology
- Classification Analysis
- Coastal Dune Habitats
- Communities and Ecosystems, Indirect Effects in
- Communities, Top-Down and Bottom-Up Regulation of
- Community Concept, The
- Community Ecology
- Community Genetics
- Community Phenology
- Competition and Coexistence in Animal Communities
- Competition in Plant Communities
- Complexity Theory
- Conservation Biology
- Conservation Genetics
- Coral Reefs
- Darwin, Charles
- Dead Wood in Forest Ecosystems
- De-Glaciation, Ecology of
- Disease Ecology
- Drought as a Disturbance in Forests
- Early Explorers, The
- Earth’s Climate, The
- Eco-Evolutionary Dynamics
- Ecological Dynamics in Fragmented Landscapes
- Ecological Education
- Ecological Engineering
- Ecological Forecasting
- Ecological Informatics
- Ecological Relevance of Speciation
- Ecology, Microbial (Community)
- Ecology of Emerging Zoonotic Viruses
- Ecology of the Atlantic Forest
- Ecosystem Ecology
- Ecosystem Engineers
- Ecosystem Multifunctionality
- Ecosystem Services
- Ecosystem Services, Conservation of
- Elton, Charles
- Endophytes, Fungal
- Energy Flow
- Environmental Anthropology
- Environmental Justice
- Environments, Extreme
- Ethics, Ecological
- European Natural History Tradition
- Evolutionarily Stable Strategies
- Facilitation and the Organization of Communities
- Fern and Lycophyte Ecology
- Fire Ecology
- Food Webs
- Foraging Behavior, Implications of
- Foraging, Optimal
- Forests, Temperate Coniferous
- Forests, Temperate Deciduous
- Freshwater Invertebrate Ecology
- Genetic Considerations in Plant Ecological Restoration
- Genomics, Ecological
- Geographic Range
- Gleason, Henry
- Grazer Ecology
- Greig-Smith, Peter
- Gymnosperm Ecology
- Habitat Selection
- Harper, John L.
- Harvesting Alternative Water Resources (US West)
- Heavy Metal Tolerance
- Himalaya, Ecology of the
- Host-Parasitoid Interactions
- Human Ecology
- Human Ecology of the Andes
- Human-Wildlife Conflict and Coexistence
- Hutchinson, G. Evelyn
- Indigenous Ecologies
- Industrial Ecology
- Insect Ecology, Terrestrial
- Introductory Sources
- Invasive Species
- Island Biogeography Theory
- Island Biology
- Keystone Species
- Kin Selection
- Landscape Dynamics
- Landscape Ecology
- Laws, Ecological
- Legume-Rhizobium Symbiosis, The
- Leopold, Aldo
- Lichen Ecology
- Life History
- Literature, Ecology and
- MacArthur, Robert H.
- Mangrove Zone Ecology
- Marine Fisheries Management
- Mass Effects
- Mathematical Ecology
- Mating Systems
- Maximum Sustainable Yield
- Metabolic Scaling Theory
- Metacommunity Dynamics
- Metapopulations and Spatial Population Processes
- Microclimate Ecology
- Multiple Stable States and Catastrophic Shifts in Ecosyste...
- Mutualisms and Symbioses
- Mycorrhizal Ecology
- Natural History Tradition, The
- Networks, Ecological
- Niche Versus Neutral Models of Community Organization
- Nutrient Foraging in Plants
- Ocean Sprawl
- Odum, Eugene and Howard
- Old Fields
- Ordination Analysis
- Organic Agriculture, Ecology of
- Parental Care, Evolution of
- Pastures and Pastoralism
- Patch Dynamics
- Phenotypic Selection
- Philosophy, Ecological
- Phylogenetics and Comparative Methods
- Physiological Ecology of Nutrient Acquisition in Animals
- Physiological Ecology of Photosynthesis
- Physiological Ecology of Water Balance in Terrestrial Anim...
- Physiological Ecology of Water Balance in Terrestrial Plan...
- Plant Blindness
- Plant Disease Epidemiology
- Plant Ecological Responses to Extreme Climatic Events
- Plant-Insect Interactions
- Polar Regions
- Pollination Ecology
- Population Dynamics, Density-Dependence and Single-Species
- Population Dynamics, Methods in
- Population Ecology, Animal
- Population Ecology, Plant
- Population Fluctuations and Cycles
- Population Genetics
- Population Viability Analysis
- Populations and Communities, Dynamics of Age- and Stage-St...
- Predation and Community Organization
- Predator-Prey Interactions
- Reductionism Versus Holism
- Religion and Ecology
- Remote Sensing
- Restoration Ecology
- Ricketts, Edward Flanders Robb
- Secondary Production
- Seed Ecology
- Serpentine Soils
- Shelford, Victor
- Simulation Modeling
- Soil Biogeochemistry
- Soil Ecology
- Spatial Pattern Analysis
- Spatial Patterns of Species Biodiversity in Terrestrial En...
- Spatial Scale and Biodiversity
- Species Distribution Modeling
- Species Extinctions
- Species Responses to Climate Change
- Species-Area Relationships
- Stability and Ecosystem Resilience, A Below-Ground Perspec...
- Stochastic Processes
- Stoichiometry, Ecological
- Stream Ecology
- Sustainable Development
- Systematic Conservation Planning
- Systems Ecology
- Tansley, Sir Arthur
- Terrestrial Nitrogen Cycle
- Terrestrial Resource Limitation
- Theory and Practice of Biological Control
- Thermal Ecology of Animals
- Tragedy of the Commons
- Trophic Levels
- Tropical Humid Forest Biome
- Urban Ecology
- Vegetation Classification
- Vegetation Mapping
- Vicariance Biogeography
- Weed Ecology
- Wetland Ecology
- Whittaker, Robert H.
- Wildlife Ecology