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Plant species richness and ecosystem multifunctionality in global drylands

September 28, 2012

Experiments suggest that biodiversity enhances the ability of ecosystems to maintain multiple functions, such as carbon storage, productivity, and the buildup of nutrient pools (multifunctionality). However, the relationship between biodiversity and multifunctionality has never been assessed globally in natural ecosystems. We report here on a global empirical study relating plant species richness and abiotic factors to multifunctionality in drylands, which collectively cover 41% of Earth's land surface and support over 38% of the human population. Multifunctionality was positively and significantly related to species richness. The best-fitting models accounted for over 55% of the variation in multifunctionality and always included species richness as a predictor variable. Our results suggest that the preservation of plant biodiversity is crucial to buffer negative effects of climate change and desertification in drylands.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2012
Title Plant species richness and ecosystem multifunctionality in global drylands
DOI 10.1126/science.1215442
Authors Fernando T. Maestre, Jose L. Quero, Nicholas J. Gotelli, Adrian Escudero, Victoria Ochoa, Manuel Delgado-Baquerizo, Miguel Garcia-Gomez, Matthew A. Bowker, Santiago Soliveres, Cristina Escolar, Pablo Garcia-Palacios, Miguel Berdugo, Enrique Valencia, Beatriz Gozalo, Antonio Gallardo, Lorgio Aguilera, Tulio Arredondo, Julio Blones, Bertrand Boeken, Donaldo Bran, Abel A. Conceicao, Omar Cabrera, Mohamed Chaieb, Mchich Derak, David J. Eldridge, Carlos I. Espinosa, Adriana Florentino, Juan Gaitan, M. Gabriel Gatica, Wahida Ghiloufi, Susana Gomez-Gonzalez, Julio R. Gutie, Rosa M. Hernandez, Xuewen Huang, Elisabeth Huber-Sannwald, Mohammad Jankju, Maria Miriti, Jorge Monerris, Rebecca L. Mau, Ernesto Morici, Kamal Naseri, Abelardo Ospina, Vicente Polo, Anibal Prina, Eduardo Pucheta, David A. Ramirez-Collantes, Roberto Romao, Matthew Tighe, Cristian Torres-Diaz, James Val, Jose P. Veiga, Deli Wang, Eli Zaady
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Science
Index ID 70040061
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Southwest Biological Science Center

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