Biodiversity and Function of Grazing Ecosystems

  • S. J. McNaughton
Part of the Praktische Zahnmedizin Odonto-Stomatologie Pratique Practical Dental Medicine book series (SSE, volume 99)


Does biodiversity influence ecosystem function? Darwin believed it did. In Chap. IV of On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, he wrote (p. 97), “The more diversified in habits and structures the descendants … become, the more places they will be enabled to occupy. … It has been experimentally proved, if a plot of ground be sown with one species of grass, and a similar plot be sown with several distinct genera of grasses, a greater number of plants and a greater weight of dry herbage can be raised in the latter than the former case.” This is a clear statement of the ideas that (a) the biodiversity of communities is due to niche diversification of the co-occurring species and (b) such diversification will lead to greater community productivity due to more effective resource exploitation.


Diverse Community Green Biomass Summer Peak Spring Peak Fence Plot 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Darwin C (1872) The origin of species, 6th London edn. Thompson & Thomas, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  2. Davis MG (1976) Pleistocene biogeography of temperate deciduous forests. Geosci Man 13: 13–26Google Scholar
  3. Despain DG (1990) Yellowstone vegetation. Roberts Rinehart, BoulderGoogle Scholar
  4. Elton CS (1958) The ecology of invasions by animals and plants. Methuen, LondonGoogle Scholar
  5. Frank DA (1990) Interactive ecology of plants, large mammalian herbivores, and drought in Yellowstone National Park PhD dissertation, Syracuse University, SyracuseGoogle Scholar
  6. Frank DA, McNaughton SJ (1991) Stability increases with diversity in plant communities: empirical evidence from the 1988 Yellowstone drought. Oikos 62: 360–362CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Gardner MR, Ashby WR (1970) Connectance of larger dynamical (cybernetic) systems: critical values for stability. Nature 228: 784PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Goodman D (1975) The theory of diversity-stability relationships in ecology. Q Rev Biol 50: 237–266CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Holling CS (1973) Resilience and stability of ecological systems. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 4: 1–23CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Hurd LE, Wolf LL (1974) Stability in relation to nutrient enrichment in arthropod consumers of old-field successional ecosystems. Ecol Monogr 44: 465–482CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Hurd LE, Mellinger MV, Wolf LL, McNaughton SJ (1971) Stability and diversity at three trophic levels in terrestrial successional communities. Science 173: 1134–1136PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. King AW, Pimm SL (1983) Complexity, diversity, and stability: a reconciliation of theoretical and empirical results. Am Nat 122: 167–182CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Lindeman RL (1942) The trophic-dynamic aspect of ecology. Ecology 23: 139–227Google Scholar
  14. MacArthur RH (1955) Fluctuations of animal populations and a measure of community stability. Ecology 36: 533–536CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Major J, Pyott WT (1966) Buried, viable seeds in two California bunchgrass sites and their bearing on the definition of a flora. Vegetatio 13: 253–282CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Margalef R (1957) La teoria de 1a información en ecologia. Mem R Acad Cienc Artes Barc 32: 373–449 [Trans, 1968, Gen Syst 3: 36-71]Google Scholar
  17. Margalef R (1961) Communication of structure in planktonic populations. Limnol Oceanogr 6: 124–128CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Margalef R (1963) On certain unifying principles in ecology. Am Nat 97: 357–374CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Margalef R (1968) Perspectives in ecological theory. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  20. May RM (1972) Will a large complex system be stable? Nature 238: 413–414PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. May RM (1973) Stability and complexity in model ecosystems. Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar
  22. May RM (1977) Thresholds and breakpoints in ecosystems with a multiplicity of stable states. Nature 269: 471–477CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. May RM, MacArthur RH (1972) Niche overlap as a function of environmental variability. Proc Nat Acad Sci (USA) 69: 1109–1113CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. McNaughton SJ (1967) Relationships among functional properties of Californian grassland. Nature 216: 168–169CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. McNaughton SJ (1968) Structure and function in California grasslands. Ecology 49: 962–972CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. McNaughton SJ (1977) Diversity and stability of ecological communities: a comment on the role of empiricism in ecology. Am Nat 111: 515–525CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. McNaughton SJ (1983) Serengeti grassland ecology: the role of composite environmental factors and contingency in community organization. Ecol Monogr 53: 291–320CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. McNaughton SJ (1985) Ecology of a grazing ecosystem: the Serengeti. Ecol Monogr 55: 259–294CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. McNaughton SJ (1988a) Diversity and stability. Nature 333: 204–205CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. McNaughton SJ (1988b) Mineral nutrition and spatial concentrations of African ungulates. Nature 334: 343–345PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. McNaughton SJ (1990) Mineral nutrition and seasonal movements of African migratory ungulates. Nature 345: 613–615CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Mellinger MV, McNaughton SJ (1975) Structure and function of successional vascular plant communities in central New York. Ecol Monogr 45: 161–182CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Moore JC, Hunt HW (1988) Resource compartmentation and the stability of real eco-systems. Nature 333: 261–263CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Odum EP (1953) Fundamentals of ecology. Saunders, PhiladelphiaGoogle Scholar
  35. Odum EP (1969) The strategy of ecosystem development. Science 164: 262–270PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Pimm SL (1984) The complexity and stability of ecosystems. Nature 307: 321–326CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Shannon C, Weaver W (1949) The mathematical theory of communication. University of Illinois Press, UrbanaGoogle Scholar
  38. Tansley AG (1935) The use and abuse of vegetational concepts and terms. Ecology 16: 284–307CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. V International Congress of Ecology (1990) Abstracts. Yokohama, pp 27–28Google Scholar
  40. Vesey-Fitzgerald DR (1960) Grazing succession among East African grazing animals. J Mammal 41: 161–172CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Yodzis P (1980) The connectance of real ecosystems. Nature 284: 544–545CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Yodzis P (1981) The stability of real ecosystems. Nature 289: 674–676CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. J. McNaughton

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations