Abstract Plants acting as ecosystem engineers create habitats and facilitate biodiversity maintenance within plant communities. Furthermore, biodiversity research has demonstrated that plant diversity enhances the productivity and functioning of ecosystems. However, these two fields of research developed in parallel and independent from one another, with the consequence that little is known about the role of ecosystem engineers in the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning across trophic levels. Here, we present an experimental framework to study this relationship. We combine facilitation by plants acting as ecosystem engineers with plant–insect interaction analysis and variance partitioning of biodiversity effects. We present a case-study experiment in which facilitation by a cushion-plant species and a dwarf-shrub species as ecosystem engineers increases positive effects of plant functional diversity (ecosystem engineers and associated plants) on ecosystem functioning (flower visitation rate). The experiment, conducted in the field during a single alpine flowering season, included the following treatments: (1) removal of plant species associated with ecosystem engineers, (2) exclusion (covering) of ecosystem engineer flowers, and (3) control, i.e., natural patches of ecosystem engineers and associated plant species. We found both positive and negative associational effects between plants depending on ecosystem engineer identity, indicating both pollination facilitation and interference. In both cases, patches supported by ecosystem engineers increased phylogenetic and functional diversity of flower visitors. Furthermore, complementarity effects between engineers and associated plants were positive for flower visitation rates. Our study reveals that plant facilitation can enhance the strength of biodiversity–ecosystem functioning relationships, with complementarity between plants for attracting more and diverse flower visitors being the likely driver. A potential mechanism is that synergy and complementarity between engineers and associated plants increase attractiveness for shared visitors and widen pollination niches. In synthesis, facilitation among plants can scale up to a full network, supporting ecosystem functioning both directly via microhabitat amelioration and indirectly via diversity effects.

An experimental approach to assessing the impact of ecosystem engineers on biodiversity and ecosystem functions / G. Losapio, B. Schmid, J. Bascompte, R. Michalet, P. Cerretti, C. Germann, J.P. Haenni, R. Neumeyer, F.J. Ortiz-Sánchez, A.C. Pont, P. Rousse, J. Schmid, D. Sommaggio, C. Schöb. - In: ECOLOGY. - ISSN 0012-9658. - 102:2(2021), pp. e03243.1-e03243.12. [10.1002/ecy.3243]

An experimental approach to assessing the impact of ecosystem engineers on biodiversity and ecosystem functions

G. Losapio
Primo
;
2021

Abstract

Abstract Plants acting as ecosystem engineers create habitats and facilitate biodiversity maintenance within plant communities. Furthermore, biodiversity research has demonstrated that plant diversity enhances the productivity and functioning of ecosystems. However, these two fields of research developed in parallel and independent from one another, with the consequence that little is known about the role of ecosystem engineers in the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning across trophic levels. Here, we present an experimental framework to study this relationship. We combine facilitation by plants acting as ecosystem engineers with plant–insect interaction analysis and variance partitioning of biodiversity effects. We present a case-study experiment in which facilitation by a cushion-plant species and a dwarf-shrub species as ecosystem engineers increases positive effects of plant functional diversity (ecosystem engineers and associated plants) on ecosystem functioning (flower visitation rate). The experiment, conducted in the field during a single alpine flowering season, included the following treatments: (1) removal of plant species associated with ecosystem engineers, (2) exclusion (covering) of ecosystem engineer flowers, and (3) control, i.e., natural patches of ecosystem engineers and associated plant species. We found both positive and negative associational effects between plants depending on ecosystem engineer identity, indicating both pollination facilitation and interference. In both cases, patches supported by ecosystem engineers increased phylogenetic and functional diversity of flower visitors. Furthermore, complementarity effects between engineers and associated plants were positive for flower visitation rates. Our study reveals that plant facilitation can enhance the strength of biodiversity–ecosystem functioning relationships, with complementarity between plants for attracting more and diverse flower visitors being the likely driver. A potential mechanism is that synergy and complementarity between engineers and associated plants increase attractiveness for shared visitors and widen pollination niches. In synthesis, facilitation among plants can scale up to a full network, supporting ecosystem functioning both directly via microhabitat amelioration and indirectly via diversity effects.
biodiversity change; complementarity effect; ecosystem functioning; facilitation; functional diversity; multitrophic interactions; phylogenetic diversity; plant-plant-insect networks
Settore BIO/03 - Botanica Ambientale e Applicata
Settore BIO/07 - Ecologia
Settore BIO/05 - Zoologia
Settore AGR/11 - Entomologia Generale e Applicata
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/2434/899373
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