From: University of Zurich
Published September 5, 2017 12:10 PM

Diverse Landscapes Are More Productive and Adapt better to Climate Change

The dramatic, worldwide loss of biodiversity is one of today's greatest environmental problems. The loss of species diversity affects important ecosystems on which humans depend. Previous research predominantly addressed short-term effects of biodiversity in small experimental plots planted with few randomly selected plant species. These studies have shown that species-poor plant assemblages function less well and produce less biomass than species rich systems.

Extensive study with about 2,200 species in 450 landscapes

Researchers participating in the University Research Priority Programme “Global Change and Biodiversity” of the University of Zurich now demonstrate similar positive effects of biodiversity in real-world ecosystems in which mechanisms different from the ones in artificial experimental plots are at play. Using 450 different 1-km2 landscapes that spanned the entire area of Switzerland, they investigated the role of the diversity of plant, bird and butterfly species for the production of biomass, which was estimated from satellite data.

Biodiversity is important for the functioning of complex, natural ecosystems

“Our results show that biodiversity plays an essential role for the functioning of extensive natural landscapes that consist of different ecosystem types such as forests, meadows or urban areas”, study leader Pascal Niklaus from Department of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies says. The analyses showed that landscapes with a greater biodiversity were more productive and that their productivity showed a lower year-to-year variation.

Read more at University of Zurich

Image: Switzerland from a satellite perspective: the vegetation's average biomass production (orange: low, green: high) is strongly increased in landscapes with high biodiversity. (Credit: UZH)

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