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Jul 052013
 
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Researchers conclude loss of biodiversity has had greater impact on ecoystems than imagined.

from Science Daily

"Humans have been affecting their environment since the ancestors of Homo sapiens first walked upright, but never has their impact been more detrimental than in the 21st century. 'The loss of biodiversity has much greater and more profound ecosystem impacts than had ever been imagined,' said David Tilman, professor of ecology, biodiversity and ecosystem functioning at UC Santa Barbara's Bren School of Environmental Science & Management.

"Human-driven environmental disturbances, such as increasing levels of reactive nitrogen and carbon dioxide (CO2), have multiple effects, including changes in biodiversity, species composition, and ecosystem functioning. Pieces of this puzzle have been widely examined but this new study puts it all together by examining multiple elements. The results were published July 1 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"According to the team's recent findings, adding nitrogen to grasslands led to an initial increase in ecosystem productivity. However, that increase proved unsustainable because the increased nitrogen resulted in a loss of plant diversity. 'In combination with earlier studies, our results show that the loss of biodiversity, no matter what might cause it, is a major driver of ecosystem functioning,' said Tilman. …"

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