Species and genotype diversity drive community and ecosystem propertiesin experimental microcosms

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Evolutionary Ecology



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Species diversity is important to ecosystems because of the increased probability of including species that are strong interactors and/or because multiple-species communities are more efficient at using resources due to synergisms and resource partitioning. Genetic diversity also contributes to ecosystem function through effects on primary productivity, community structure and resilience, and modulating energy and nutrient fluxes. Lacking are studies investigating the relationship between ecosystem function and diversity where hierarchical levels of biological diversity are systematically varied during experimentation. In this experiment, we manipulated both species and genotypic diversity of two Daphnia species in microcosms initially seeded with Chlamydomonas and measured community- and ecosystem-level properties to determine which level of diversity was most important for explaining variation in the property. Our results show that species diversity alters bacterial community composition while high genotypic diversity reduces bacterial richness and primary productivity. In addition, the highest levels of genotypic and species richness appear to increase community and ecosystem stability. These findings reveal that species and genotypic diversity are significant drivers of community and ecosystem properties and stability.

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