A global synthesis reveals biodiversity loss as a major driver of ecosystem change

Algae Utilizing and synthesizing data from nearly 200 published articles, NCEAS researchers examined the effects of various environmental stressors on plant growth and decomposition, two crucial processes in any ecosystem. They measured the rate of species loss in different ecosystems, and found that where there was greater plant species loss, there was an increased negative impact on plant growth and an alteration in decomposition. The effects of biodiversity loss on biomass were similar to the effects from other environmental stressors, including global warming, pollution, and acid rain.

A global synthesis reveals biodiversity loss as a major driver of ecosystem change
David U. Hooper, E. Carol Adair, Bradley J. Cardinale, Jarrett E. K. Byrnes, Bruce A. Hungate, Kristin L. Matulich, Andrew Gonzalez, J. Emmett Duffy, Lars Gamfeldt and Mary I. O’Connor
Nature, 11118, May 2, 2012 (online)

UCSB press release

Following is a sample of the media coverage of this study:
National Science Foundation: Ecosystem effects of biodiversity loss rival climate change and pollution
Scientific American: How biodiversity keeps earth alive
CORDIS News: (Europe) Biodiversity loss a major threat to plant growth, researchers warn
Earth Times: Biodiversity loss from species extinctions may rival pollution and climate change impacts
Futurity: Extinction's toll could rival climate change
The News Tribune: WWU biologist: Loss of plant biodiversity could affect ecosystems as much as global climate change, pollution
The Seattle Times: WWU biologist: Plant diversity key to ecosystem
Statesman Journal: Ecology: WWU biologist says plant diversity key to ecosystem
UPI: Study: Biodiversity loss hits environment

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Posted on May 9, 2012