Evidence is increasing for positive effects of α-diversity on ecosystem functioning. We highlight here the crucial role of β-diversity – a hitherto underexplored facet of biodiversity – for a better process-level understanding of biodiversity change and its consequences for ecosystems. A focus on β-diversity has the potential to improve predictions of natural and anthropogenic influences on diversity and ecosystem functioning. However, linking the causes and consequences of biodiversity change is complex because species assemblages in nature are shaped by many factors simultaneously, including disturbance, environmental heterogeneity, deterministic niche factors, and stochasticity. Because variability and change are ubiquitous in ecosystems, acknowledging these inherent properties of nature is an essential step for further advancing scientific knowledge of biodiversity–ecosystem functioning in theory and practice.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
A.S.M. was supported by the Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science ( 15KK0022 ), and the Environment Research and Technology Development Fund of the Japanese Ministry of the Environment (S-14). R.S. acknowledges support from the Austrian Science Fund FWF through START grant Y895-B25 . F.I. acknowledges support from the US National Science Foundation Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) program (DEB 1234162 ) and the LTER Network Communications Office ( DEB-1545288 ). We acknowledge thoughtful comments by anonymous reviewers.
- biodiversity–ecosystem functioning
- biotic homogenization
- community assembly
- deterministic processes
- landscape configuration
- spatial scaling
- stochastic processes