Biodiversity and biogeochemical cycles: a search for mechanisms across ecosystems
A EuroDIVERSITY collaborative research project endorsed by DIVERSITAS as contributing to their scientific mandate
Abstract Past research on the consequences of biodiversity loss for ecosystem functioning provided evidence of diminished primary production with decreasing plant species diversity. Little is known, however, about the relationship between biodiversity and other key ecosystem processes including decomposition, carbon transformation, and nutrient mineralization; vital components of the ecosystem functioning that deliver essential goods and services to humanity. In this project, we have established a European-wide network to investigate the interactive effects of plant litter diversity and decomposer diversity on carbon and nutrient cycling across a gradient of paired terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems running from the subarctic to the tropics. With a comparative approach using a multiple species pool experiment in which we manipulate functional diversity across biomes and ecosystem types, we aim to establish a mechanistic understanding of the impact of changing biodiversity on ecosystem functioning. We are hopeful that the novel plant diversity-decomposer diversity manipulations, concerted investigation across biomes, specific comparison of structurally distinct aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, the use of the state-of-the-art analytical tools, and complementary scientific knowledge unified within the framework of the project will advance the understanding of the biodiversity-ecosystem function relationship.
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