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INSECT COMMUNITIES AND ECOSYSTEM FUNCTION

Much of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning (BEF) research has focused on single functions and services, but recent findings suggest that the relationship between biodiversity and functioning may differ depending on whether one or multiple services are considered. Recent research has also revealed that the number of species needed to sustain multiple functions simultaneously can be substantially higher than the number required for any single function.

 We will combine extensive data on insect communities (see  Insect biomes: composition, diversity and ecology research theme) with data on ecosystem functions (decomposition, pollination, herbivory and predation rates) collected at 200 sites to examine some of the most topical questions in BEF research:

  • whether functional rates are better predicted by overall species richness, by the richness of particular functional groups, or by the presence of taxa of superior functional efficiency.

  • whether different services are maximized by the same species composition, or whether different community composition optimize different services.

  • how different ecosystem functions vary in concert or conflict with each other, and which taxa best predict realized functional rates.

By basing our research on data from the full insect biota and associated microbiome rather than on sparse data on selected “indicator species” we will offer a vital tool for the use of society and its decision makers to predict, monitor and validate change in biodiversity and ecosystem services.