Revealing the consequences of species extinctions for ecosystem function has been a chief research goal(1-7) and has been accompanied by enthusiastic debate(8-11). Studies carried out predominantly in terrestrial grassland and soil ecosystems have demonstrated that as the number of species in assembled communities increases, so too do certain ecosystem processes, such as productivity, whereas others such as decomposition can remain unaffected(12). Diversity can influence aspects of ecosystem function, but questions remain as to how generic the patterns observed are, and whether they are the product of diversity, as such, or of the functional roles and traits that characterize species in ecological systems. Here we demonstrate variable diversity effects for species representative of marine coastal systems at both global and regional scales. We provide evidence for an increase in complementary resource use as diversity increases and show strong evidence for diversity effects in naturally assembled com-munities at a regional scale. The variability among individual species responses is consistent with a positive but idiosyncratic pattern of ecosystem function with increased diversity.
- PLANT DIVERSITY