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Study: Ecological effects of biodiversity loss underestimated
Date:11/30/2010

ses, hundreds of species in an ecosystem. Rudolf said Lafferty's food webs include data about specific resource requirements for particular developmental stages within species, in some instances for as many as 50 percent of the species in the ecosystem.

"With this data, we were able to estimate the percentage of resources that are actually shared among developmental stages," Rudolf said. "In addition, we were able to show how this affects the stability of natural ecosystems.

"We found that in most food webs, the individual stages of a species typically share less than 50 percent of their resources," he said. "And within certain subgroups, like metamorphic species, that number is sometimes less than 10 percent."

The researchers used the information to formulate computer models that simulated how the loss of species affects natural ecosystems. One important implication of the finding is that natural ecosystems are much less stable than previously assumed, and many at-risk species may face an even greater likelihood of becoming extinct than ecologists previously thought.

"Our results suggest that the increasing loss of biodiversity -- due to changing climate, habitat destruction and other causes -- will likely have much more devastating effects on natural communities and result in a greater number of species extinctions than previously believed," Rudolf said.


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Contact: David Ruth
druth@rice.edu
713-348-6327
Rice University
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2

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