Special Articles

Biotic Control over the Functioning of Ecosystems

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Science  25 Jul 1997:
Vol. 277, Issue 5325, pp. 500-504
DOI: 10.1126/science.277.5325.500

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Changes in the abundance of speciesespecially those that influence water and nutrient dynamics, trophic interactions, or disturbance regimeaffect the structure and functioning of ecosystems. Diversity is also functionally important, both because it increases the probability of including species that have strong ecosystem effects and because it can increase the efficiency of resource use. Differences in environmental sensitivity among functionally similar species give stability to ecosystem processes, whereas differences in sensitivity among functionally different species make ecosystems more vulnerable to change. Current global environmental changes that affect species composition and diversity are therefore profoundly altering the functioning of the biosphere.

  • * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail fschapin{at}socrates.berkeley.edu

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