ECOLOGY/EVOLUTION

The Effects of Overeating

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Science  01 Aug 2003:
Vol. 301, Issue 5633, pp. 569
DOI: 10.1126/science.301.5633.569a

The relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem properties and functioning has been under the spotlight in ecology for several years. Most of the experimental work in this area has involved manipulating the number of plant species in a system and examining the consequences in terms of parameters such as biomass and productivity. Duffy et al. add a new layer of complexity and realism by adding the effects of herbivore diversity. Increasing the diversity of grazing organisms in a seagrass ecosystem led to reductions in the diversity and biomass of plants. These results suggest that there is a counteractive effect on increased diversity by consumers, as opposed to producers, and that food web interactions may be critically important in determining the ultimate effects on ecosystems of human-induced biodiversity loss. — AMS

Ecol. Lett. 6, 637 (2003).

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