Functional diversity is positively associated with biomass for lake diatoms


Richard J. Vogt, Département des sciences biologiques, Université du Québec à Montréal, CP 8888, Succ. Centre Ville, Montréal, QC, Canada, H3C 3P8.


1. Recent work has emphasised the benefit of using functional measures when relating biodiversity to ecosystem functioning. In this study, we investigated the extent to which functional and taxonomic diversity might be related to summed biovolume in community assemblages of 212 species of diatoms collected from 65 temperate lakes in western and central Quebec, Canada.

2. We quantified functional diversity as both the total path-length of a functional dendrogram (FD) and the variance in species traits (TV) for a given community. Selected traits included both size and responses to a set of environmental variables known to be influential for diatom communities.

3. Species richness, as well as both FD and TV, was positively associated with total diatom biovolume at the level of the entire diatom community, suggesting that diversity in response types (particularly to total phosphorus and pH) is important for diatom community production.

4. Although functional measures of diversity did not provide enhanced explanatory power over species richness, we argue that an exploration of functional traits potentially allows greater insight into the mechanisms underlying biodiversity–ecosystem functioning relations, indicating which traits might be most influential in driving community biomass production.