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Specific arrangements of species dominance can be more influential than evenness in maintaining ecosystem process and function
Wohlgemuth, D.; Solan, M.; Godbold, J.A. (2016). Specific arrangements of species dominance can be more influential than evenness in maintaining ecosystem process and function. NPG Scientific Reports 6(39325 ): 8 pp. http://hdl.handle.net/10.1038/srep39325
In: Scientific Reports (Nature Publishing Group). Nature Publishing Group: London. ISSN 2045-2322; e-ISSN 2045-2322, meer
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  • Wohlgemuth, D.
  • Solan, M., meer
  • Godbold, J.A.

Abstract
    The ecological consequences of species loss are widely studied, but represent an end point of environmental forcing that is not always realised. Changes in species evenness and the rank order of dominant species are more widespread responses to directional forcing. However, despite the repercussions for ecosystem functioning such changes have received little attention. Here, we experimentally assess how the rearrangement of species dominance structure within specific levels of evenness, rather than changes in species richness and composition, affect invertebrate particle reworking and burrow ventilation behaviour - important moderators of microbial-mediated remineralisation processes in benthic environments - and associated levels of sediment nutrient release. We find that the most dominant species exert a disproportionate influence on functioning at low levels of evenness, but that changes in biomass distribution and a change in emphasis in species-environmental interactions become more important in governing system functionality as evenness increases. Our study highlights the need to consider the functional significance of alterations to community attributes, rather than to solely focus on the attainment of particular levels of diversity when safeguarding biodiversity and ecosystems that provide essential services to society.

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