Browsing by Subject "Ecosystem functioning"

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  • Gammal, Johanna; Norkko, Joanna; Pilditch, Conrad A.; Norkko, Alf (2017)
    Coastal ecosystems are important because of the vital ecosystem functions and services they provide, but many are threatened by eutrophication and hypoxia. This results in loss of biodiversity and subsequent changes in ecosystem functioning. Consequently, the need for empirical field studies regarding biodiversity-ecosystem functioning in coastal areas has been emphasized. The present field study quantified the links between benthic macrofaunal communities (abundance, biomass, and species richness), sediment oxygen consumption, and solute fluxes (NO3- + NO2-, NH4+, PO43-, SiO4, Fe, Mn) along a 7.5-km natural gradient of seasonal hypoxia in the coastal northern Baltic Sea. Sampling was done in late August 2010 in the middle archipelago zone of the Hanko peninsula, Finland. As predicted, the macrofaunal communities were decimated with increasing hypoxia, and the nutrient transformation processes were changed at the sediment-water interface, with notably higher effluxes of phosphate and ammonium from the sediment. Solute fluxes varied even during normoxia, which implies a high context-dependency, and could be explained by even small variations in environmental variables such as organic matter and C/N ratios. Importantly, the low diversity benthic macrofaunal communities, which were dominated by Macoma balthica and the invasive Marenzelleria spp., had a large influence on the solute fluxes, especially under normoxia, but also under hypoxia.
  • Norkko, Joanna; Pilditch, Conrad A.; Gammal, Johanna; Rosenberg, Rutger; Enemar, Arvid; Magnussond, Marina; Granberg, Maria E.; Lindgren, J. Fredrik; Agrenius, Stefan; Norkko, Alf (2019)
    Marine ecosystems world-wide are threatened by oxygen deficiency, with potential serious consequences for ecosystem functioning and the goods and services they provide. While the effects of hypoxia on benthic species diversity are well documented, the effects on ecosystem function have only rarely been assessed in real-world settings. To better understand the links between structural changes in macro- and meiofaunal communities, hypoxic stress and benthic ecosystem function (benthic nutrient fluxes, community metabolism), we sampled a total of 11 sites in Haystensfjord and Askerofjord (Swedish west coast) in late summer, coinciding with the largest extent and severity of seasonal hypoxia in the area. The sites spanned oxic to anoxic bottom water, and a corresponding gradient in faunal diversity. Intact sediment cores were incubated to measure fluxes of oxygen and nutrients (NO3-, NO2-, NH4+, PO43-, SiO4) across the sediment-water interface. Sediment profile imaging (SPI) footage was obtained from all sites to assess structural elements and the bioturbadon depth, and additional samples were collected to characterise sediment properties and macro- and meiofaunal community composition. Bottom-water O-2 concentration was the main driver of macrofauna communities, with highest abundance and biomass, as well as variability, at the sites with intermediate O-2 concentration. Meiofauna on the other hand was less sensitive to bottom-water O-2 concentration. Oxygen was the main driver of nutrient fluxes too, but macrofauna as well meiofauna were also significant predictors; DistLM analyses indicated that O-2 concentration, macrofaunal abundance or biomass, and meiofaunal abundance collectively explained 63%, 30% and 28% of the variation in sediment O-2 consumption, NH4+ flux and PO43+ flux, respectively. The study provides a step towards a more realistic understanding of the link between benthic fauna and ecosystem functioning, and the influence of disturbance on this relationship, which is important for management decisions aimed at protecting the dwindling biodiversity in the coastal zones around the world.
  • La Notte, Alessandra; D'amato, Dalia; Mäkinen, Hanna; Paracchini, Maria Luisa; Liquete, Camino; Egoh, Benis; Geneletti, Davide; Crossman, Neville (2017)
    Ecosystem services research faces several challenges stemming from the plurality of interpretations of classifications and terminologies. In this paper we identify two main challenges with current ecosystem services classification systems: i) the inconsistency across concepts, terminology and definitions, and; ii) the mix up of processes and end-state benefits, or flows and assets. Although different ecosystem service definitions and interpretations can be valuable for enriching the research landscape, it is necessary to address the existing ambiguity to improve comparability among ecosystem-service-based approaches. Using the cascade framework as a reference, and Systems Ecology as a theoretical underpinning, we aim to address the ambiguity across typologies. The cascade framework links ecological processes with elements of human well-being following a pattern similar to a production chain. Systems Ecology is a long-established discipline which provides insight into complex relationships between people and the environment. We present a refreshed conceptualization of ecosystem services which can support ecosystem service assessment techniques and measurement. We combine the notions of biomass, information and interaction from system ecology, with the ecosystem services conceptualization to improve definitions and clarify terminology. We argue that ecosystem services should be defined as the interactions (i.e. processes) of the ecosystem that produce a change in human well-being, while ecosystem components or goods, i.e. countable as biomass units, are only proxies in the assessment of such changes. Furthermore, Systems Ecology can support a re-interpretation of the ecosystem services conceptualization and related applied research, where more emphasis is needed on the underpinning complexity of the ecological system.
  • Arzel, Celine; Nummi, Petri; Arvola, Lauri; Pöysä, Hannu; Davranche, Aurélie; Rask, Martti; Olin, Mikko; Holopainen, Sari; Viitala, Risto; Einola, Eeva; Manninen-Johansen, Sanni (2020)
    Surface water browning affects boreal lakes in the Northern Hemisphere. This process is expected to increase with global warming. Boreal lakes are the most numerous lakes on Earth. These ecosystems are particularly sensitive to disturbances due to their low biodiversity compared to other aquatic environments. The recent darkening of surface water is expected to hinder key ecosystem processes, particularly through lower primary productivity and loss of biodiversity. However, studies based on long-term data collections have rarely been conducted on the ecological consequences of water browning on aquatic food webs, especially concerning its impacts on invertebrate communities. For the first time, our analysis based on two decades of data collection in Finnish lakes highlighted a relation between water browning and a decline in aquatic macroinvertebrate abundances. Aquatic invertebrates are the main food resource for many secondary predators such as fish and waterbirds, hence such effect on their populations may have major consequences for boreal ecosystem functioning.
  • Rissanen, Kaisa; Martin-Guay, Marc-Olivier; Riopel-Bouvier, Anne-Sophie; Paquette, Alain (2019)
    Biodiversity affects ecosystem functioning in forests by, for example, enhancing growth and altering the forest structure towards greater complexity with cascading effects on other processes and trophic levels. Complexity in forest canopy could enhance light interception and form a link between diversity and productivity in polyculture forests, but the effect of canopy structure on light interception is rarely directly measured. We modelled the canopy surface structure of a tree diversity experiment by photographing it using unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and combining the photos into a digital elevation model with photogrammetry tools. We analysed the effects of tree diversity and functional diversity on canopy structural complexity and light interception with a structural equation model. Our results show that: a) increased structural complexity of the canopy reduces light interception, whereas b) tree diversity increases the structural complexity of the canopy, and has a dual impact on light interception. Tree diversity decreased light interception through the structural complexity of the canopy but increased it probably through canopy packing and crown complementarity. However, the effects of both tree diversity and structural complexity of canopy were smaller than the effect of the functional identities of the tree species, especially the differences between deciduous and evergreen trees. We conclude that more complexity in canopy structure can be gained through increased tree diversity, but complex canopy structure does not increase light interception in young forests.
  • Roth, Florian; El-Khaled, Yusuf C.; Karcher, Denis B.; Rädecker, Nils; Carvalho, Susana; Duarte, Carlos M.; Silva, Luis; Calleja, Maria Ll.; Moran, Xose Anxelu G.; Jones, Burton H.; Voolstra, Christian R.; Wild, Christian (2021)
    Ecosystem services provided by coral reefs may be susceptible to the combined effects of benthic species shifts and anthropogenic nutrient pollution, but related field studies are scarce. We thus investigated in situ how dissolved inorganic nutrient enrichment, maintained for two months, affected community-wide biogeochemical functions of intact coral- and degraded algae-dominated reef patches in the central Red Sea. Results from benthic chamber incubations revealed 87% increased gross productivity and a shift from net calcification to dissolution in algae-dominated communities after nutrient enrichment, but the same processes were unaffected by nutrients in neighboring coral communities. Both community types changed from net dissolved organic nitrogen sinks to sources, but the increase in net release was 56% higher in algae-dominated communities. Nutrient pollution may, thus, amplify the effects of community shifts on key ecosystem services of coral reefs, possibly leading to a loss of structurally complex habitats with carbonate dissolution and altered nutrient recycling.
  • Cappelli, Seraina Lisa; Pichon, Noémie Anna; Mannall, Tosca; Allan, Eric (2022)
    Biodiversity effects on ecosystem functioning can be partitioned into complementarity effects, driven by many species, and selection effects, driven by few. Selection effects occur through interspecific abundance shifts (dominance) and intraspecific shifts in functioning. Complementarity and selection effects are often calculated for biomass, but very rarely for secondary productivity, i.e. energy transfer to higher trophic levels. We calculated diversity effects for three functions: aboveground biomass, insect herbivory and pathogen infection, the latter two as proxies for energy transfer to higher trophic levels, in a grassland experiment (PaNDiv) manipulating species richness, functional composition, nitrogen enrichment and fungicide treatment. Complementarity effects were on average positive and selection effects negative for biomass production and pathogen infection and multiple species contributed to diversity effects in mixtures. Diversity effects were on average less pronounced for herbivory. Diversity effects for the three functions were not correlated, because different species drove the different effects. Benefits (and costs) from growing in diverse communities, be it reduced herbivore or pathogen damage or increased productivity either due to abundance increases or increased productivity per area were distributed across different plant species, leading to highly variable contributions of single species to effects of diversity on different functions. These results show that different underlying ecological mechanisms can result in similar overall diversity effects across functions.
  • Virta, Leena; Teittinen, Anette (2022)
    The responses of biotic communities and ecosystems to climate change may be abrupt and non-linear. Thus, resolving ecological threshold mechanisms is crucial for understanding the consequences of climate change and for improving environmental management. Here, we present a study on the threshold responses of benthic diatom communities that are an important component of all aquatic environments and strongly contribute to global primary production. We reach beyond the taxonomic perspective by focusing on the diversity and functions of diatom communities and benthic biomass along gradients of salinity and wind disturbance, whose climate-change-induced changes have been predicted to strongly affect biotic communities in the marine and brackish systems in the future. To improve the generality of our results, we examine three self-collected datasets from different spatial scales (6–830 km) and ecosystem types. We collected samples from rock pools or from littoral stones and studied taxonomic thresholds using Threshold Indicator Taxa Analysis (TITAN2). We investigated threshold responses of community diversity, community functions, and benthic biomass using t-tests and regression analysis. Our results indicated that decreasing salinity may result in increasing diversity but decreasing biomass of brackish communities, while the effects of increasing wind disturbance were contradictory among spatial scales. Benthic biomass correlated with the taxonomic and functional diversity, as well as with the body size distribution of communities, highlighting the importance of considering community functions and organismal size when predicting ecosystem functions. The most pronounced effects of decreasing salinity and increasing wind disturbance on community functions were changes in the abundance of low-profile diatom species, which, due to the high resilience of low-profile diatoms, may lead to changes in ecosystem functioning and resilience. To conclude, decreasing salinity and increasing wind disturbance may lead to threshold responses of biotic communities, and these changes may have profound effects on ecosystem functioning along marine coastal areas.