From: Smithsonian
Published September 11, 2017 12:44 PM

Biodiversity Proves Its Real-World Value

Hundreds of experiments have shown biodiversity fosters healthier, more productive ecosystems. But many experts doubted whether these experiments would hold up in the real world. A Smithsonian and University of Michigan study published today in the journal Nature offers a decisive answer: Biodiversity’s power in the wild does not match that predicted by experiments—it surpasses it.

“Having diversity is not just an aesthetic thing,” said Emmett Duffy, lead author and marine ecologist at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Edgewater, Md. “It’s really important for having ecosystems that work well—that are productive, that can recycle nutrients, absorb wastes and protect shorelines.”

In the past, ecologists primarily tested biodiversity’s impact through carefully controlled experiments: planting one or several species in plots while ensuring everything else remained the same, and observing which plots grew best. To uncover biodiversity’s power outside experiments, biologists synthesized data from 67 observational studies of nature in the field, covering grasslands, forests, freshwater environments and marine environments. The studies spanned all seven continents and contained data from over 600,000 sampling locations around the world.

Read more at Smithsonian

Image: A school of grunts explores a shallow reef at Carrie Bow Cay, Belize, one of Smithsonian MarineGEO's long-term research sites. Biodiversity not only can make sites beautiful, but also can help boost their biomass and make them more productive. (Credit: Ross Whippo/Smithsonian Environmental Research Center)

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