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Title: Species compensatory responses and biodiversity-ecosystem function relations
Author: Thomsen, Matthias Schmidt
ISNI:       0000 0004 7431 3413
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2018
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Anthropogenic activities affect ecosystems and alter community dynamics and species interactions, which can have with significant consequences for biodiversity function relations. Current knowledge on the role of biodiversity in mediating ecosystem processes and functions is largely derived from controlled, biodiversity manipulation experiments. However, these studies rarely account for species compensatory responses that potentially represent an important ecological response to perturbations in natural systems. Incorporating species compensation into empirical studies or predictive models has the potential to fundamentally change perceptions of the ecosystem consequences associated with changing biodiversity, but has received little attention. Here, I explicitly incorporate aspects of biodiversity change that have not previously been included within the biodiversity-ecosystem function framework. By adopting a range of approaches, including trait-based models, laboratory-based mesocosm experiments and field observations, I explore the role of compensation in marine benthic communities. Results show that scenarios of species loss that include community compensatory responses are fundamentally different to those where response mechanisms are excluded. However, the ecosystem consequences of compensation depend on the type and expression of compensation. I demonstrate that the functional traits of the species driving the compensatory response, and their relative abundance within the community, is highly important in determining the functional outcome of altered biodiversity. Although, a consistent feature across communities, irrespective of the driver of perturbation, the functional consequences of compensatory responses are also dependent on environmental context. The general paradigm that emerges is that compensatory responses exist in natural systems and are likely to alter the form of biodiversity-function relations, leading to changes in ecosystem properties that differ from current expectation. I conclude that, in order to project the ecosystem consequences of anticipated levels of biodiversity change, it will be necessary to acknowledge the role of compensation in natural systems to ensure the benefits that ecosystems provide society are sustained.
Supervisor: Solan, Martin Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available