Biodiversity works both ways

06/10/05

The influence of biodiversity on the functioning of ecosystems has been a focus for extensive research over the last decade. Most studies have, however, examined the effects of diversity changes within only one level of the food chain (e.g. plants), while the consequences of losing links across levels are unknown. In the July issue of Ecology Letters, Gamfeldt, Hillebrand and Jonsson show that changes in consumer species richness within a simple food chain of microbial organisms affected both the biomass of consumers and their prey. Furthermore, given the highest diversity of consumers, prey diversity also enhanced consumer biomass. The results show that loss of biodiversity can change production both up and down the food chain. It is concluded that biodiversity of both producers and consumers can be important for the transfer of energy and biomass to higher trophic levels. This should be considered in future management of biodiversity

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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