, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp 129-139
Date: 23 Nov 2010

Interactive effects of species richness and species traits on functional diversity and redundancy

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Abstract

The importance of species diversity for ecosystem function has emerged as a key question for conservation biology. Recently, there has been a shift from examining the role of species richness in isolation towards understanding how species interact to effect ecosystem function. Here, we briefly review theoretical predictions regarding species contributions to functional diversity and redundancy and further use simulated data to test combined effects of species richness, number of functional traits, and species differences within these traits on unique species contributions to functional diversity and redundancy, as well as on the overall functional diversity and redundancy within species assemblages. Our results highlighted that species richness and species functional attributes interact in their effects on functional diversity. Moreover, our simulations suggested that functional differences among species have limited effects on the proportion of redundancy of species contributions as well as on the overall redundancy within species assemblages, but that redundancy rather was determined by number of traits and species richness. Our simulations finally indicated scale dependence in the relative effects of species richness and functional attributes, which suggest that the relative influence of these factors may affect individual contributions differently compared to the overall ecosystem function of species assemblages. We suggest that studies on the relationship between biological diversity and ecosystem function will benefit from focusing on multiple processes and ecological interactions, and that the relative functional attributes of species will have pivotal roles for the ecosystem function of a given species assembly.