February 1st to 5th 2016
Olhão, Portugal
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Biodiversity-ecosystem functioning relationships under environmental change: the need for empirical evidence

Oral Presentation
Biodiversity Effects
Thursday, February 4, 2016 -
12:00 to 12:15

O'Connor, N.E. 1

1Queen's University Belfast

Predicting the consequences of species loss remains an elusive goal of critical importance for the maintenance of ecosystem functioning and services. To understand the consequences of biodiversity loss, it is necessary to test how biodiversity–ecosystem functioning relationships vary with predicted environmental change. Currently, marine ecosystems are impacted heavily by multiple anthropogenic stressors including nutrient enrichment, ocean warming and the spread of invasive species. However, little is known about how these disturbances interact to affect ecosystem functioning. This presentation will synthesise the recent findings of several mesocosm and field-based experiments, which have manipulated species diversity and other environmental factors simultaneously, to determine the effects of loss of species under changing environmental conditions. For example, we have shown that hydrodynamic disturbance exacerbates the effects of changing consumer diversity on algal communities and functioning, and disrupts the influence of other environmental stressors on key consumer–resource interactions. We also found that the effects of loss of grazer species depends strongly on both the identity of the species lost and of those remaining in the community. Moreover, the effects of loss of species depended on nutrient availability, making it extremely difficult to predict the effects of species loss generally without detailed knowledge of a system. These findings highlight the need to include key physical drivers, such as nutrient availability and ocean warming, explicitly into biodiversity–ecosystem functioning models to move towards a predictive framework that incorporates the effects of both environmental heterogeneity and anthropogenic stressors.
keywords: 
species loss, ecosystem functioning, global change, multiple stressors, coasts

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