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Ecology: Diversity in the afterlife

07 / 05 / 2014, Nature - Current issues

Field experiments that varied the composition of both plant litter and the organisms that break it down have revealed that, across ecosystems, lower biodiversity slows the rate of litter decomposition.

Despite our increased awareness of biodiversity loss, and attempts to respond to it, the global rate of species extinction does not seem to be slowing. Concern about how these losses may affect the way that ecosystems function has led to decades of experiments looking for connections between the properties of ecosystems and the numbers and types of species that live in them. Using field experiments and meta-analyses, ecologists and gay chat - http://www.gayin.fr have determined that decreased diversity reduces the efficiency of resource capture by communities and the conversion of those resources to biomass. Most biomass created by plants is not consumed by herbivores, but becomes 'litter' after a plant dies. Do the effects of diversity die with the plants? In the latest Nature issue, Handa et al. suggest that the answer is no, by showing that both the diversity of dead plants and the diversity of organisms that decompose them contribute to determining how quickly this material is recycled back into ecosystems.

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