Original Paper

Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 19, Issue 10, pp 2873-2893

Towards an assessment of multiple ecosystem processes and services via functional traits

  • Francesco de BelloAffiliated withLaboratoire d’Ecologie Alpine, UMR CNRS 5553, Université Joseph Fourier Email author 
  • , Sandra LavorelAffiliated withLaboratoire d’Ecologie Alpine, UMR CNRS 5553, Université Joseph Fourier
  • , Sandra DíazAffiliated withMBIV (CONICET-UNC) and FCEFyN, Universidad Nacional de Córdoba
  • , Richard HarringtonAffiliated withDepartment of Plant and Invertebrate Ecology, Rothamsted Research
  • , Johannes H. C. CornelissenAffiliated withInstitute of Ecological Science, Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences, VU University Amsterdam
  • , Richard D. BardgettAffiliated withInstitute of Environmental and Natural Sciences, Soil and Ecosystem Ecology, Lancaster University
  • , Matty P. BergAffiliated withInstitute of Ecological Science, Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences, VU University Amsterdam
  • , Pablo CipriottiAffiliated withCátedra de Métodos Cuantitativos Aplicados, Facultad de Agronomía, Universidad de Buenos Aires
  • , Christian K. FeldAffiliated withApplied Zoology/Hydrobiology, Faculty of Biology and Geography, University of Duisburg-Essen
    • , Daniel HeringAffiliated withApplied Zoology/Hydrobiology, Faculty of Biology and Geography, University of Duisburg-Essen
    • , Pedro Martins da SilvaAffiliated withIMAR-CIC, Department of Zoology, University of Coimbra
    • , Simon G. PottsAffiliated withCentre for Agri-Environmental Research, University of Reading
    • , Leonard SandinAffiliated withLaboratoire d’Ecologie Alpine, UMR CNRS 5553, Université Joseph FourierDepartment of Environmental Assessment, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
    • , Jose Paulo SousaAffiliated withIMAR-CIC, Department of Zoology, University of Coimbra
    • , Jonathan StorkeyAffiliated withDepartment of Plant and Invertebrate Ecology, Rothamsted Research
    • , David A. WardleAffiliated withLaboratoire d’Ecologie Alpine, UMR CNRS 5553, Université Joseph FourierDepartment of Forest Ecology and Management, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
    • , Paula A. HarrisonAffiliated withLaboratoire d’Ecologie Alpine, UMR CNRS 5553, Université Joseph FourierEnvironmental Change Institute, Oxford University Centre for the Environment

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Abstract

Managing ecosystems to ensure the provision of multiple ecosystem services is a key challenge for applied ecology. Functional traits are receiving increasing attention as the main ecological attributes by which different organisms and biological communities influence ecosystem services through their effects on underlying ecosystem processes. Here we synthesize concepts and empirical evidence on linkages between functional traits and ecosystem services across different trophic levels. Most of the 247 studies reviewed considered plants and soil invertebrates, but quantitative trait–service associations have been documented for a range of organisms and ecosystems, illustrating the wide applicability of the trait approach. Within each trophic level, specific processes are affected by a combination of traits while particular key traits are simultaneously involved in the control of multiple processes. These multiple associations between traits and ecosystem processes can help to identify predictable trait–service clusters that depend on several trophic levels, such as clusters of traits of plants and soil organisms that underlie nutrient cycling, herbivory, and fodder and fibre production. We propose that the assessment of trait–service clusters will represent a crucial step in ecosystem service monitoring and in balancing the delivery of multiple, and sometimes conflicting, services in ecosystem management.

Keywords

Ecosystem functioning Functional diversity Indicators Multitrophic communities Plant, animal and microbial biodiversity