The role of biodiversity in the functioning of freshwater and marine benthic ecosystems

Alan P. Covich, Melanie C. Austen, Felix Bärlocher, Eric Chauvet, Bradley J. Cardinale, Catherine L. Biles, Pablo Inchausti, Olivier Dangles, Martin Solan, Mark O. Gessner, Bernhard Statzner, Brian Moss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

254 Scopus citations


Empirical studies investigating the role of species diversity in sustaining ecosystem processes have focused primarily on terrestrial plant and soil communities. Eighteen representative studies drawn from post-1999 literature specifically examined how changes in biodiversity affect benthic ecosystem processes. Results from these small-scale, low-diversity manipulative studies indicate that the effects of changes in biodiversity (mostly synonymous with local species richness) are highly variable over space and time and frequently depend on specific biological traits or functional roles of individual species. Future studies of freshwater and marine ecosystems will require the development of new experimental designs at larger spatial and temporal scales. Furthermore, to successfully integrate field and laboratory studies, the derivation of realistic models and appropriate experiments will require approaches different from those already used in terrestrial systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)767-775
Number of pages9
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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