Navigation Links
Quality of biodiversity, not just quantity, is key
Date:12/6/2013

DURHAM, N.C. -- For years, scientists have believed that preserving more species, no matter which ones, is a key component to enhancing how well an ecosystem performs.

Not so fast, say scientists at Duke University and the University of Massachusetts at Boston.

In a new study of biodiversity loss in a salt marsh, published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, they find that it's not just the total number of species preserved that matters, it's the number of key species.

If humans want to reap the benefits of the full range of functions that salt marshes and other coastal ecosystems provide, we need to preserve the right mix of species, they said.

"Having a group of distantly related species, representing markedly different ecologies and biology, is as important, or more important, than just having more species in general," said Brian R. Silliman, Rachel Carson associate professor of marine conservation biology at Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment.

"It's quality, not just quantity," said lead author Marc J. S. Hensel, a Ph.D. student at the University of Massachusetts at Boston. "We need to preserve a wide variety of species."

Salt marshes perform a long list of ecological services: they buffer coastal erosion; filter runoff; reduce the risk of flooding; provide habitat for juvenile fish, crabs and shrimp; and store excess carbon, keeping it from re-entering Earth's atmosphere.

To better understand how the loss of key species affects these functions, Silliman and Hensel conducted a tightly controlled eight-month field experiment in a salt marsh on Sapelo Island, Ga. They set up eight different experimental treatments, each with a different mix of three of the marsh's most abundant "consumer" species: purple marsh crabs; marsh periwinkle snails; and fungus. At first, all three species were present, to mirror the natural "intact" conditions of the marsh. Silliman and Hensel then began sequentially removing species -- first one, then two, then all three -- to simulate extinctions.

Throughout the experiment, they measured the effects of each species mix on three important salt marsh functions: overall grass growth (productivity); the rate of dead plant removal (decomposition); and how fast tidal or storm surge water percolated through the marsh (filtration).

The effect of the species removals on individual functions varied considerably, because in salt marshes, each species is very good at performing one or two functions.

However, when all three key species were present, the average rate of all functions -- a measure of overall ecosystem health -- rose simultaneously.

"Our study provides a rare, real-world example that the loss of key species can have profound impacts on the overall performance of an ecosystem," Silliman said. "It suggests that the ability of nature to perform well at multiple levels may depend not just on the overall number of species present, but on having many distantly related species, each of which performs a particular task that keeps an ecosystem healthy and allows it to provide the multiple benefits humans value."

"If we had only been looking at three different species of similarly functioning crabs, or only one marsh function, we would have missed that, and erroneously predicted that only one consumer species is needed to maintain high system performance," he said.


'/>"/>

Contact: Tim Lucas
tdlucas@duke.edu
919-613-8084
Duke University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Zinc sulfate, sugar alcohol zinc sprays improve apple quality
2. Protein quality: It matters
3. Enrollment in SNAP does not substantially improve food security or dietary quality
4. Clean Air Act has led to improved water quality in the Chesapeake Bay watershed
5. Laser technology sorting method can improve Capsicum pepper seed quality
6. New report reviews science and engineering quality at national security laboratories
7. UCLA scientists receive $2 million grant to improve quality of donor livers for transplant
8. Perception of fertility affects quality of life in young, female cancer survivors
9. Health-related quality of life in PD patients in northeastern Sicily, Italy
10. UT Arlington research to benefit quality, flow in 150-mile Integrated Pipeline
11. Genetically modified cotton improves diet quality for small-scale farmers in India
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:1/6/2017)... -- Delta ID Inc., a leader in consumer-grade iris scanning ... CES® 2017. Delta ID has collaborated with Gentex Corporation ... of iris scanning as a secure, reliable and convenient ... car, and as a way to elevate the security ... ID and Gentex will demonstrate (booth #7326 LVCC) a ...
(Date:1/4/2017)... LAS VEGAS , Jan. 4, 2017 /PRNewswire/ ... in performance biometric sensor technology, today announced the ... Benchmark™ sensor systems, the highly-accurate biometric sensor ... ® biometric technology, experience and expertise. The ... of Benchmark designed specifically for hearables, and Benchmark ...
(Date:12/22/2016)...  As part of its longstanding mission to improve genetic ... recently released its latest children,s book, titled The ... the topics of inheritance and variation of traits that are ... elementary school classrooms in the US. The ... Ariana Killoran , whose previous book with 23andMe, ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:1/18/2017)... MA (PRWEB) , ... January 18, 2017 , ... ... today that Dr. Dante Leven successfully implanted SpineFrontier’s A-CIFT™ Solofuse-P™. The operation took ... Center in Valley Stream, NY. The procedure was an anterior cervical discectomy and ...
(Date:1/18/2017)... NY (PRWEB) , ... January 18, 2017 , ... Researchers from a new study ... do not fall low enough after prostate cancer treatment, this indicates there is still remaining ... risk of mortality. , “ The PSA test has always been an indicator of whether ...
(Date:1/18/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... January 18, 2017 , ... Thirty-six startup ... tax credits by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development in 2016 as ... are located in the University City Keystone Innovation Zone and represent the highest number ...
(Date:1/18/2017)... 2017 /PRNewswire/ - SQI Diagnostics Inc. (TSX-V: SQD; ... that develops and commercializes proprietary technologies and products ... today announced that Cameron Prange , President ... from its Board of Directors.  Mr. Prange,s resignation ... that have limited both his ability to act ...
Breaking Biology Technology: