Biodiversity and ecosystem functioning is representative of an integral relationship which is critical for healthy and stable ecosystems. Biodiversity is a term used to describe the number and variety of species found on Earth. The term ecosystem functioning is used to describe the collective relationship between organisms within a community and their interactions with their environment’s biological and geological processes.
An unhealthy or an unstable environment negatively influences biodiversity. There are multiple direct drivers which can cause ecosystem functioning to become compromised. Some direct drivers include the effects of climate change, over-exploitation, habitat destruction and pollution. Unfortunately, this all causes a loss in biodiversity.
Currently, biodiversity decline is a sad reality in both aquatic and terrestrial environments. This is a major problem because species richness is required for productive ecosystem processes. Four hypotheses have been formulated which support this notion. However, only two hypotheses will be discussed because the third hypothesis is based on a sampling effect and the other on statistics. Thus, they are beyond the scope of this discussion.
- Species redundancy: The productivity of ecosystem processes increases until a particular threshold value for species richness is reached. The idea is that more than one species in an ecosystem performs the same function, thus the levelling off. However, this increases ecosystem resilience because if certain conditions stress a particular species, another is capable of performing the same function.
- Niche complementarity: This is characteristic of a continuously increasing, linear relationship between ecosystem processes and species richness. Productivity continually rises because different species possess ecological differences, causing them to have different functional requirements. This facilitates a more complete use of resources and reduces competition.
Ecosystems provide a multitude of useful services, but these can only be maintained with a high level of biodiversity. Biodiversity ensures that genetic variation is preserved and this variety benefits all facets of an ecosystem.
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