Declining biodiversity and loss of ecosystem function threatens the ability of habitats to contribute ecosystem services. However, the form of the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem function (BEF) and how relationships change with environmental change is poorly understood. This limits our ability to predict the consequences of biodiversity loss on ecosystem function, particularly in real-world marine ecosystems that are species rich, and where multiple ecosystem functions are represented by multiple indicators. We investigated spatial variation in BEF relationships across a 300 000 m2 intertidal sandflat by nesting experimental manipulations of sediment pore water nitrogen concentration into sites with contrasting macrobenthic community composition. Our results highlight the significance of many different elements of biodiversity associated with environmental characteristics, community structure, functional diversity, ecological traits or particular species (ecosystem engineers) to important functions of coastal marine sediments (benthic oxygen consumption, ammonium pore water concentrations and flux across the sediment–water interface). Using the BEF relationships developed from our experiment, we demonstrate patchiness across a landscape in functional performance and the potential for changes in the location of functional hot and cold spots with increasing nutrient loading that have important implications for mapping and predicating change in functionality and the concomitant delivery of ecosystem services.
Electronic supplementary material is available online at https://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.3726598.
- Received December 28, 2016.
- Accepted March 14, 2017.
- © 2017 The Author(s)
Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.