Characterizations of how species mediate ecosystem properties require more comprehensive functional effect descriptors

Hale, Rachel, Mavrogordato, M, Tolhurst, Trevor and Solan, Martin (2014) Characterizations of how species mediate ecosystem properties require more comprehensive functional effect descriptors. Scientific Reports, 4. ISSN 2045-2322

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Abstract

The importance of individual species in mediating ecosystem process and functioning is generally accepted, but categorical descriptors that summarize species-specific contributions to ecosystems tend to reference a limited number of biological traits and underestimate the importance of how organisms interact with their environment. Here, we show how three functionally contrasting sediment-dwelling marine invertebrates affect fluid and particle transport - important processes in mediating nutrient cycling - and use high-resolution reconstructions of burrow geometry to determine the extent and nature of biogenic modification. We find that individual functional effect descriptors fall short of being able to adequately characterize how species mediate the stocks and flows of important ecosystem properties and that, in contrary to common practice and understanding, they are not substitutable with one another because they emphasize different aspects of species activity and behavior. When information derived from these metrics is combined with knowledge of how species behave and modify their environment, however, detailed mechanistic information emerges that increases the likelihood that a species functional standing will be appropriately summarized. Our study provides evidence that more comprehensive functional effect descriptors are required if they are to be of value to those tasked with projecting how altered biodiversity will influence future ecosystems.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder in order to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ How to cite this article: Hale, R., Mavrogordato, M.N., Tolhurst, T.J. & Solan, M. Characterizations of how species mediate ecosystem properties require more comprehensive functional effect descriptors. Sci. Rep. 4, 6463; DOI: 10.1038/srep06463 (2014).
Uncontrolled Keywords: climate-change ecology,biogeochemistry,community ecology,ecosystem ecology
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Science > School of Environmental Sciences
Faculty of Science
Depositing User: Pure Connector
Date Deposited: 25 Jul 2014 14:38
Last Modified: 21 Apr 2020 23:13
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/49290
DOI: 10.1038/srep06463

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