Chapter

Biodiversity as spatial insurance: the effects of habitat fragmentation and dispersal on ecosystem functioning

Andrew Gonzalez, Nicolas Mouquet and Michel Loreau

in Biodiversity, Ecosystem Functioning, and Human Wellbeing

Published in print July 2009 | ISBN: 9780199547951
Published online September 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780191720345 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199547951.003.0010
 Biodiversity as spatial insurance: the effects of habitat fragmentation and dispersal on ecosystem functioning

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Habitat destruction and fragmentation is driving biodiversity loss at local and regional scales, yet the functional effects of this loss are poorly understood. Here, this chapter reviews several concepts that allow us to link local and regional scales of biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. First it shows how the species-area relationship can link loss of habitat to delayed loss of diversity and ecosystem functioning in remnant fragments. Second, it shows that non-linear averaging can be used to estimate the impact of spatial variance in biodiversity caused by fragmentation. Finally the chapter uses a metacommunity framework to formalize the spatial insurance hypothesis. This hypothesis suggests that dispersal is a key process linking diversity to productivity and stability across fragmented landscapes. The theory this chapter outlines stresses that the knowledge of spatial processes across ecosystems will be essential if we are to understand how habitat fragmentation mediates the ecological and economic impacts of biodiversity loss.

Keywords: biodiversity; ecosystem function; metacommunity; fragmentation; landscape; scale; spatial insurance

Chapter.  7489 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Animal Pathology and Diseases

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