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Keywords:

  • Functional diversity;
  • land-use change;
  • redundancy;
  • resilience;
  • response diversity

Abstract

Ecosystem resilience depends on functional redundancy (the number of species contributing similarly to an ecosystem function) and response diversity (how functionally similar species respond differently to disturbance). Here, we explore how land-use change impacts these attributes in plant communities, using data from 18 land-use intensity gradients that represent five biomes and > 2800 species. We identify functional groups using multivariate analysis of plant traits which influence ecosystem processes. Functional redundancy is calculated as the species richness within each group, and response diversity as the multivariate within-group dispersion in response trait space, using traits that influence responses to disturbances. Meta-analysis across all datasets showed that land-use intensification significantly reduced both functional redundancy and response diversity, although specific relationships varied considerably among the different land-use gradients. These results indicate that intensified management of ecosystems for resource extraction can increase their vulnerability to future disturbances.

Ecology Letters (2010) 13: 76–86