Towards a food web perspective on biodiversity and ecosystem functioning

Bradley Cardinale, Emmett Duffy, Diane Srivastava, Michel Loreau, Matt Thomas, Mark Emmerson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

25 Scopus citations


While one of the most striking features of our planet is its great variety of life, studies show that ongoing biodiversity loss could reduce the productivity of ecosystems by as much as 50%. However, evidence comes largely from experiments that have used highly simplified communities with on average seven species, all from a single trophic group. In contrast, natural communities have dozens, if not hundreds, of species spanning a variety of trophic levels. Would this additional complexity alter our conclusions about the functional consequences of diversity loss? This chapter reviews five hypotheses about how the fluxes of energy and matter through foodwebs might depend on the diversity of species interacting within, as well as across trophic levels. After outlining the empirical support for or against each hypothesis, this chapter discusses several avenues of research that may prove useful as ecologists move towards a food web perspective on biodiversity and ecosystem functioning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationBiodiversity, Ecosystem Functioning, and Human Wellbeing
Subtitle of host publicationAn Ecological and Economic Perspective
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780191720345
ISBN (Print)9780199547951
StatePublished - Jul 30 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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