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.



Recent publications:

Gessner MO, Swan CM, Dang CK, McKie BG, Bardgett RD, Wall DH, Hättenschwiler S (2010) Diversity meets decomposition. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 25: 372-378. PDF

De Oliveira T, Hättenschwiler S, Handa IT (2010) Snail and millipede complementarity in decomposing Mediterranean forest leaf litter mixtures. Functional Ecology, 24: 937-946. PDF

Rouifed S, Handa IT, David J-F, Hättenschwiler S (2010) The importance of biotic factors in predicting global change effects on decomposition of temperate forest leaf litter. Oecologia, 163: 247-256. PDF

Vos VCA, van Ruijven J, Berg MP, Peeters ETHM, Berendse F (2011) Macro-detritivore identity drives leaf litter diversity effects. Oikos, 120: 1092-1098.

Patenaires BioCycle

Partenaires principaux :

Prof Rien Aerts, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam 
Prof Frank Berendse, Wageningen University
Dr Matty Berg, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Dr Eric Chauvet, CNRS EcoLab Toulouse
Prof Mark Gessner, Leibniz Institute Berlin
Prof Tanya I Handa, University of Quebec Montréal
Prof Brendan McKie, SLU Uppsala
Dr Edwin Peeters, Wageningen University
Dr Jasper van Ruijven, Wageningen University
Prof Stefan Scheu, University of Göttingen
Prof Bernhard Schmid, University of Zürich

ESF EuroDiversity programme

Dr Stephan Hättenschwiler
1919, route de Mende
F-34293 Montpellier cedex 5, France
T +33 4 67 61 22 36
F +33 4 67 41 21 38
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