Does functional redundancy of communities provide insurance against human disturbances? An analysis using regional-scale stream invertebrate data
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- Schmera, D., Baur, B. & Erős, T. Hydrobiologia (2012) 693: 183. doi:10.1007/s10750-012-1107-z
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Human-induced reductions in species richness might alter the quality of ecosystem services when the remaining species are not able to substitute the functions provided by extirpated species. We examined how human disturbances (nutrient enrichment, land use intensification, instream habitat degradation and the presence of alien species) influence the species richness of stream invertebrates. Stream invertebrates (425 native species) were collected by kick and sweep sampling technique at 274 stream sites covering the entire area of Hungary. We measured the species richness, functional richness (i.e. number of unique functional roles provided by community members) and functional redundancy (i.e. the functional insurance of the community) using information on the feeding habits of each species. To remove the effect of natural variability, we tested the effect of stressors on the residuals of models relating species richness, functional richness and functional redundancy with natural environmental gradients. Our results showed that species richness was negatively influenced by instream habitat degradation and nutrient enrichment. Independent of the way of quantifying functional richness and functional redundancy, we found that functional richness is more sensitive to human impact than functional redundancy of stream invertebrates. The finding that a reduction of species richness is associated with a loss of unique functional roles (functional richness) is important for conservation issues, because the number of unique functional roles is usually regarded as driver of ecosystem functioning.