Saturday, June 2, 2012

David Cooper - The Effects of diversity on Ecosystem processes: Does it matter?

When it was discovered that Professor David Cooper was spending his sabbatical at the University of Oregon, the Biology department asked that he give a lecture.  He asked the question: does biodiversity matter in regards to ecosystem services and processes?  To better explore this question he posed three other questions: 1, at what magnitude does diversity effect ecosystem processes relative to environmental changes, 2, what are the effects on things that people care about, 3, how are ecosystems changing.

He explored the first question by discussing a meta analysis he did, which we had recently read for our discussion class.  The paper looked at 192 other papers that all manipulated species richness in randomized experiments.  He looked at productivity vs. the species richness of primary producers and decomposition vs. the species richness of primary producers/consumers.  He measured average monoculture effect, best monoculture effect, and 50% loss.  Cooper found that there was a relationship between species loss and environmental change,

To answer the second question he said was both yes and no and that what the effects are on things that people care about vary greatly and as they are cultural ecosystem services, they are hard to quantify.

He concluded with the third question say that there is need for future research and to expand the focus, the patter of loss and the scale of the experiment.  But the message was clear, that loss of species richness is related to ecosystem processes.

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