Diversity-Function Relationships Changed in a Long-term Restoration Experiment

Doherty, J.M., J.C. Callaway and J.B. Zedler

Publication Date:

The central tenet of biodiversity–ecosystem function (BEF) theory, that species richness increases function, could motivate restoration practitioners to incorporate a greater number of species into their projects. But it is not yet clear how well BEF theory predicts outcomes of restoration, because it has been developed through tests involving short-run and tightly controlled (e.g., weeded) experiments. Thus, we resampled our 1997 BEF experiment in a restored salt marsh to test for long-term effects of species richness (plantings with 1, 3, and 6 species per 2 x 2 m plot), with multiple ecosystem functions as response variables. Where species-rich plantings are unlikely to ensure long-term restoration of functions, as in our salt marsh, we recommend dual efforts to establish (1) dominant species that provide high levels of target functions, and (2) subordinate species, which might provide additional functions under current or future conditions.

Resource Type:
Peer-reviewed Article

Ecological Applications