Direct, manipulative experiments can yield important insights into the role of biodiversity in ecosystem function, but they are intrinsically limited when it comes to aspects of this relationship that emerge over long temporal and large spatial scales. Natural experiments with model systems can be a powerful complement to direct, manipulative experiments, especially where the processes that regulate biodiversity have no more than modest direct impacts on ecosystem function. Mangrove ecosystems on continental land masses and isolated islands offer unusual potential as natural experiments for biodiversity and ecosystem function studies, largely because sites with similar physical environments can have clear contrasts in the diversity of the dominant autotrophs. These contrasts provide a starting point for exploring the role of species diversity of higher plants in modulating biogeochemical functions (e.g. production, nutrient cycling), ecological functions (e.g. habitat for organisms in different tropic levels), and anthropogenic functions (e.g. maintenance of fisheries, management of sediments), on a range of time scales.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)