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Exponential decline of deep-sea ecosystem functioning linked to benthic biodiversity loss

Danovaro, Roberto; Gambi, Cristina; Dell’Anno, Antonio; Corinaldesi, Cinzia; Fraschetti, Simonetta; Vanreusel, Ann; Vincx, Magda; Gooday, Andrew J.. 2008 Exponential decline of deep-sea ecosystem functioning linked to benthic biodiversity loss. Current Biology, 18 (1). 1-8. 10.1016/j.cub.2007.11.056

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Abstract/Summary

Background: Recent investigations suggest that biodiversity loss might impair the functioning and sustainability of ecosystems. Although deep-sea ecosystems are the most extensive on Earth, represent the largest reservoir of biomass, and host a large proportion of undiscovered biodiversity, the data needed to evaluate the consequences of biodiversity loss on the ocean floor are completely lacking. Results: Here, we present a global-scale study based on 116 deep-sea sites that relates benthic biodiversity to several independent indicators of ecosystem functioning and efficiency. We show that deep-sea ecosystem functioning is exponentially related to deep-sea biodiversity and that ecosystem efficiency is also exponentially linked to functional biodiversity. These results suggest that a higher biodiversity supports higher rates of ecosystem processes and an increased efficiency with which these processes are performed. The exponential relationships presented here, being consistent across a wide range of deep-sea ecosystems, suggest that mutually positive functional interactions (ecological facilitation) can be common in the largest biome of our biosphere. Conclusions: Our results suggest that a biodiversity loss in deep-sea ecosystems might be associated with exponential reductions of their functions. Because the deep sea plays a key role in ecological and biogeochemical processes at a global scale, this study provides scientific evidence that the conservation of deep-sea biodiversity is a priority for a sustainable functioning of the worlds' oceans.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.1016/j.cub.2007.11.056
ISSN: 0960-9822
Additional Keywords: EVO_ECOL
Date made live: 03 Jul 2008 +0 (UTC)
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/152510

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