Science Current Events | Science News | Brightsurf.com
 

Plant diversity is key to maintaining productive vegetation, U of M study shows

May 04, 2012
Vegetation, such as a patch of prairie or a forest stand, is more productive in the long run when more plant species are present, a new University of Minnesota study shows. The unprecedented long-term study of plant biodiversity found that each species plays a role in maintaining a productive ecosystem, especially when a long time horizon is considered. The study found that every additional species in a plot contributed to a gradual increase in both soil fertility and biomass production over a 14-year period.

The research paper, published in the May 4 edition of the journal Science, highlights the importance of managing for diversity in prairies, forests and crops, according to Peter Reich, a professor in the university's forest resources department and the study's lead author.

Reich and his colleagues examined how the effect of diversity on productivity of plants changed over the long term in two large field experiments at the University of Minnesota's Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve in central Minnesota. These are the longest-running biodiversity experiments in the world, and contain plots with one, four, nine or 16 different species of plants. Reich's research was done using long-lived prairie plants, but serves as a model system for all vegetation, whether prairie, forest or row crop. The study also showed how diversity works by demonstrating that different species have different ways to acquire water, nutrients and carbon and maintain them in the ecosystem.

"Prior shorter-term studies, most about two years long, found that diversity increased productivity, but that having more than six or eight species in a plot gave no additional benefit," Reich said. "But we found that over a 14-year time span, all 16 species in our most diverse plots contributed more and more each year to higher soil fertility and biomass production. The take-home message is that when we reduce diversity in the landscape--think of a cornfield or a pine plantation or a suburban lawn--we are failing to capitalize on the valuable natural services that biodiversity provides."

Collaborators on the project included scientists David Tilman and Sarah Hobbie from the university's department of ecology, evolution and behavior as well as colleagues in the department of forest resources and from two European universities. Reich is also jointly affiliated with the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota and the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment at the University of Western Sydney, in Australia.

Previous studies have examined only shorter-term impacts of biodiversity on productivity. "This study reveals what short-term experiments have missed: the effects of biodiversity loss on ecosystems are more complex, severe and unpredictable than previously thought," says Matt Kane, program director for the National Science Foundation's Long-Term Environmental Research site network, which includes Cedar Creek. "This work shows the importance of doing long-term research, in this case documenting for the first time the critical importance of biodiversity for ecosystem health and sustainability."

University of Minnesota


Related Biodiversity Current Events and Biodiversity News Articles


NUS researchers discover for the first time that a rare bush frog breeds in bamboo
Researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) have discovered a new reproductive mode in frogs and toads - breeding and laying direct developing eggs in live bamboo with narrow openings - which was observed in the white spotted bush frog (Raorchestes chalazodes).

Top marine scientists call for action on 'invisible' fisheries
To protect our oceans from irreversible harm, governments, conservationists, and researchers around the world must address the enormous threat posed by unregulated and destructive fisheries, say top marine scientists.

Retaining forests where raptors nest can help to protect biodiversity
Predators influence decisions on conservation actions because they awake a remarkable interest in the society. However, favouring just predators in conservation can also mislead the scarce funding invested in nature conservation.

Global boom in hydropower expected this decade
An unprecedented boom in hydropower dam construction is underway, primarily in developing countries and emerging economies. While this is expected to double the global electricity production from hydropower, it could reduce the number of our last remaining large free-flowing rivers by about 20 percent and pose a serious threat to freshwater biodiversity.

A legal trade in horn would improve rhino protection and help sustainable development
The extinction in the wild of the southern white rhino population could be prevented by letting local communities take responsibility of the animals and giving them permission to harvest horns in a controlled manner through a legal trade.

Mediterranean, Semi-Arid Ecosystems Prove Resistant to Climate Change
Climate change predictions for the Middle East, like other arid regions of the world, are alarming. In an area known for its water scarcity, rainfall is expected to decrease even further in the near future, spelling disaster for the functioning of unique ecosystems - hotspots of biodiversity and rich genetic fodder for essential crops.

Loss of big predators could leave herbivores in a thorny situation
Global declines in carnivore populations could embolden plant eaters to increasingly dine on succulent vegetation, driving losses in plant and tree biodiversity, according to UBC research published today in Science.

Plant communities produce greater yield than monocultures
Although monocultures can be cultivated efficiently, they are anything but sustainable: environmental damage to soil and water caused by monoculture cultivation is becoming increasingly evident.

New Univeristy of Virginia study upends current theories of how mitochondria began
Parasitic bacteria were the first cousins of the mitochondria that power cells in animals and plants - and first acted as energy parasites in those cells before becoming beneficial, according to a new University of Virginia study that used next-generation DNA sequencing technologies to decode the genomes of 18 bacteria that are close relatives of mitochondria.

First Detailed Map of Aboveground Forest Carbon Stocks in Mexico Unveiled
The Woods Hole Research Center (WHRC) and Allianza MREDD+ released the first detailed map of aboveground forest carbon stocks of Mexico available for download today.
More Biodiversity Current Events and Biodiversity News Articles

Biodiversity: An Introduction

Biodiversity: An Introduction
by Kevin J. Gaston (Author), John I. Spicer (Author)


CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD ARTWORK
This concise introductory text provides a complete overview of biodiversity - what it is, how it arose, its distribution, why it is important, human impact upon it, and what should be done to maintain it.Timely overview of the serious attempts made to quantify and describe biodiversity in a scientific way Acts as an easy entry point into the primary literature Provides real-world examples of key issues, including illustrations of major temporal and spatial patterns in biodiversity Designed primarily with undergraduate students and course lecturers in mind, it will also be of interest to anyone who requires an overview of, and entry to, the vast literature on these topics. All the figures included in the book are downloadable from the Blackwell...

Sustaining Life: How Human Health Depends on Biodiversity

Sustaining Life: How Human Health Depends on Biodiversity
by Eric Chivian (Editor), Aaron Bernstein (Editor)


The Earth's biodiversity-the rich variety of life on our planet-is disappearing at an alarming rate. And while many books have focused on the expected ecological consequences, or on the aesthetic, ethical, sociological, or economic dimensions of this loss, Sustaining Life is the first book to examine the full range of potential threats that diminishing biodiversity poses to human health.

Edited and written by Harvard Medical School physicians Eric Chivian and Aaron Bernstein, along with more than 100 leading scientists who contributed to writing and reviewing the book, Sustaining Life presents a comprehensive--and sobering--view of how human medicines, biomedical research, the emergence and spread of infectious diseases, and the production of food, both on land and in the...

Tree of Life: The Incredible Biodiversity of Life on Earth (Citizenkid)

Tree of Life: The Incredible Biodiversity of Life on Earth (Citizenkid)
by Rochelle Strauss (Author), Margot Thompson (Illustrator)


If every known species on Earth were a leaf on a tree, that tree would have 1 750 000 leaves. Since humans count for just one leaf on the tree, we have a lot to learn about the millions of other forms of life with which we share the world. A dazzlingly illustrated and child-friendly introduction to biodiversity, Tree of Life shows how living things are classified into five kingdoms -- and how each has much to tell us about all aspects of life on our planet. Tree of Life is part of CitizenKid: A collection of books that inform children about the world and inspire them to be better global citizens.

The Living Landscape: Designing for Beauty and Biodiversity in the Home Garden

The Living Landscape: Designing for Beauty and Biodiversity in the Home Garden
by Rick Darke (Author), Douglas W. Tallamy (Author)


A home garden is often seen as separate from the natural world surrounding it. In truth, it is actually just one part of a larger landscape that is made up of many living layers. And the replacement of the rich layers of native flora with turf grass greatly diminishes a garden’s biological diversity and ecological function.

The Living Landscape seeks to reverse this trend by showing gardeners how to create a landscape that is full of life. Written by Rick Darke and Douglas W. Tallamy, two of the most important voices in sustainability and horticulture, it is the definitive guide to designing a beautiful, biodiverse home garden. The authors first explain the layers of the landscape and what role the plants within them plays in the larger environment, from providing berries...

A World in One Cubic Foot: Portraits of Biodiversity

A World in One Cubic Foot: Portraits of Biodiversity
by W. S. Di Piero (Author), Alan Huffman (Author), August Kleinzahler (Author), Elizabeth Kolbert (Author), Nalini M. Nadkarni (Author), Jasper Slingsby (Author), Peter Slingsby (Author), David Liittschwager (Photographer), E. O. Wilson (Photographer)


Twelve inches by twelve inches by twelve inches, the cubic foot is a relatively tiny unit of measure compared to the whole world. With every step, we disturb and move through cubic foot after cubic foot. But behold the cubic foot in nature—from coral reefs to cloud forests to tidal pools—even in that finite space you can see the multitude of creatures that make up a vibrant ecosystem.

For A World in One Cubic Foot, esteemed nature photographer David Liittschwager took a bright green metal cube—measuring precisely one cubic foot—and set it in various ecosystems around the world, from Costa Rica to Central Park. Working with local scientists, he measured what moved through that small space in a period of twenty-four hours. He then photographed the cube’s setting...

The Diversity of Life (Questions of Science)

The Diversity of Life (Questions of Science)
by Edward O. Wilson (Author)


View a collection of videos on Professor Wilson entitled "On the Relation of Science and the Humanities" "In the Amazon Basin the greatest violence sometimes begins as a flicker of light beyond the horizon. There in the perfect bowl of the night sky, untouched by light from any human source, a thunderstorm sends its premonitory signal and begins a slow journey to the observer, who thinks: the world is about to change." Watching from the edge of the Brazilian rain forest, witness to the sort of violence nature visits upon its creatures, Edward O. Wilson reflects on the crucible of evolution, and so begins his remarkable account of how the living world became diverse and how humans are destroying that diversity. Wilson, internationally regarded as the dean of biodiversity studies,...

Biodiversity, Ecosystem Functioning, and Human Wellbeing: An Ecological and Economic Perspective (Oxford Biology)

Biodiversity, Ecosystem Functioning, and Human Wellbeing: An Ecological and Economic Perspective (Oxford Biology)
by Shahid Naeem (Editor), Daniel E. Bunker (Editor), Andy Hector (Editor), Michel Loreau (Editor), Charles Perrings (Editor)


How will biodiversity loss affect ecosystem functioning, ecosystem services, and human well-being?

In an age of accelerating biodiversity loss, this timely and critical volume summarizes recent advances in biodiversity-ecosystem functioning research and explores the economics of biodiversity and ecosystem services. The book starts by summarizing the development of the basic science and provides a meta-analysis that quantitatively tests several biodiversity and ecosystem functioning hypotheses. It then describes the natural science foundations of biodiversity and ecosystem functioning research including: quantifying functional diversity, the development of the field into a predictive science, the effects of stability and complexity, methods to quantify mechanisms by which diversity...

Monocultures of the Mind: Perspectives on Biodiversity and Biotechnology

Monocultures of the Mind: Perspectives on Biodiversity and Biotechnology
by Vandana Shiva (Author)


Book by Shiva, Vandana

Biodiversity Monitoring in Australia

Biodiversity Monitoring in Australia
by David Lindenmayer (Editor), Philip Gibbons (Editor)


Ecological and biodiversity-based monitoring has been marked by an appalling lack of effectiveness and lack of success in Australia for more than 40 years, despite the billions of dollars that are invested in biodiversity conservation annually. What can be done to rectify this situation?

This book tackles many aspects of the problem of biodiversity monitoring. It arose from a major workshop held at The Australian National University in February 2011, attended by leaders in the science, policy-making and management arenas of biodiversity conservation.

Chapter contributors examine what has led to successful monitoring, the key problems with biodiversity monitoring and practical solutions to those problems. By capturing critical insights into successes, failures and...

Biodiversity

Biodiversity
by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent (Author), William Munoz (Illustrator)


A photo essay demonstrating the concept of biodiversity, a term used to encompass the many forms of life on Earth and their interdependence on one another for survival. The reader not only gets a firm grasp of what biodiversity is, but also an explanation of why it is important to maintain.


© 2014 BrightSurf.com