Biodiversity Effects on Soil Processes Explained by Interspecific Functional Dissimilarity

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Science  05 Nov 2004:
Vol. 306, Issue 5698, pp. 1019-1020
DOI: 10.1126/science.1101865

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The loss of biodiversity can have significant impacts on ecosystem functioning, but the mechanisms involved lack empirical confirmation. Using soil microcosms, we show experimentally that functional dissimilarity among detritivorous species, not species number, drives community compositional effects on leaf litter mass loss and soil respiration, two key soil ecosystem processes. These experiments confirm theoretical predictions that biodiversity effects on ecosystem functioning can be predicted by the degree of functional differences among species.

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