Effects of Plant Species Richness on Invasion Dynamics, Disease Outbreaks, Insect Abundances and Diversity


Declining biodiversity represents one of the most dramatic and irreversible aspects of anthropogenic global change, yet the ecological implications of this change are poorly understood. Recent studies have shown that biodiversity loss of basal species, such as autotrophs or plants, affects fundamental ecosystem processes such as nutrient dynamics and autotrophic production. Ecological theory predicts that changes induced by the loss of biodiversity at the base of an ecosystem should impact the entire system. Here we show that experimental reductions in grassland plant richness increase ecosystem vulnerability to invasions by plant species, enhance the spread of plant fungal diseases, and alter the richness and structure of insect communities. These results suggest that the loss of basal species may have profound effects on the integrity and functioning of ecosystems. two of the leading ecologists of that era, hypothesized that the diversity of an ecosystem would impact three aspects of ecosystem functioning. First it was proposed that greater diversity would increase resistance to invasions by other species (diversity±invasibility hypothesis) (Elton 1958). Invasibility of a site should depend on the availability of the resources that limit the growth of the invading species. Because levels of limiting resources are generally lower in more diverse ecosystems within the same habitat (Tilman et al. 1996, 1997a), a lower portion of potential invaders should be able to become established in more diverse ecosystems. A variety of studies have supported the diversity-invasibility hypothesis (Rejma nek

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@inproceedings{Elton1999EffectsOP, title={Effects of Plant Species Richness on Invasion Dynamics, Disease Outbreaks, Insect Abundances and Diversity}, author={Charles S. Elton and G. Evelyn Hutchinson and Johannes M. H. Knops and David Tilman and Nick M. Haddad and Shahid Naeem and Charles E Mitchell and John Haarstad and Mark E. Ritchie and Katherine M. Howe and Peter B. Reich and Evan Siemann and James V. Groth}, year={1999} }