Biodiversity and ecosystem functioning: It is time for dispersal experiments
Article first published online: 24 FEB 2009
2006 IAVS - the International Association of Vegetation Science
Journal of Vegetation Science
Volume 17, Issue 4, pages 543–547, August 2006
How to Cite
Zobel, M., Öpik, M., Moora, M. and Pärtel, M. (2006), Biodiversity and ecosystem functioning: It is time for dispersal experiments. Journal of Vegetation Science, 17: 543–547. doi: 10.1111/j.1654-1103.2006.tb02477.x
- Issue published online: 24 FEB 2009
- Article first published online: 24 FEB 2009
- Received 24 October 2005; Accepted 19 June 2006.
- Arrival probability;
- Ecosystem function;
- Diaspore Invasion;
- Species diversity;
- Species pool
The experimental study of the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem function has mainly addressed the effect of species and number of functional groups. In theory, this approach has mainly focused on how extinction affects function, whereas dispersal limitation of ecosystem function has been rarely discussed. A handful of seed introduction experiments, as well as numerous observations of the effects of long-distance dispersal of alien species, indicate that ecosystem function may be strongly determined by dispersal limitation at the local, regional and/or global scales.
We suggest that it is time to replace biodiversity manipulation experiments, based on random draw of species, with those addressing realistic scenarios of either extinction or dispersal. Experiments disentangling the dispersal limitation of ecosystem function should have to take into account the probability of arrival. The latter is defined as the probability that a propagule of a particular species will arrive at a particular community. Arrival probability depends on the dispersal ability and the number of propagules of a species, the distance a species needs to travel, and the permeability of the matrix landscape. Current databases, in particular those in northwestern and central Europe now enable robust estimation of arrival probability in plant communities.
We suggest a general hypothesis claiming that dispersal limitation according to arrival probability will have ecosystem-level effects different from those arising due to random arrival. This hypothesis may be rendered more region-, landscape- or ecosystem-specific by estimating arrival probabilities for different background conditions.