Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Biodiversity Controls Ecological 'Services,' Report Scientists In Comprehenisive Analysis

Date:
November 7, 2006
Source:
University of California - Santa Barbara
Summary:
Accelerating rates of species extinction pose problems for humanity, according to a comprehensive study headed by a biologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara and published in the journal Nature this week. The groundbreaking statistical analysis demonstrates that the preservation of biodiversity -- both the number and type of species -- is needed to maintain ecological balance and "services."

The ladybug beetle is part of a synergistic "team" of three aphid predators that help alfalfa farmers in the Midwest.
Credit: Bradley Cardinale, UCSB

Accelerating rates of species extinction pose problems for humanity, according to a comprehensive study headed by a biologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara and published in the journal Nature this week.

Related Articles


The groundbreaking statistical analysis demonstrates that the preservation of biodiversity ---- both the number and type of species ---- is needed to maintain ecological balance and "services." The concern about losing numbers of species versus types of species has been an area of scientific controversy for over a decade.

"By combining the results of more than a hundred studies performed over two decades, we were able to conclusively show that the extinction of species from our planet will change the way pests and diseases are controlled, organic wastes are broken down and recycled, food is produced by ecosystems, and water is purified," said Bradley J. Cardinale, first author and associate professor in the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology at UCSB.

The 111 field, greenhouse, and laboratory studies that were analyzed by the authors came from experiments performed on species from around the world. "Until recently, scientists knew a lot about the causes of extinctions, but surprisingly little about their consequences," said Diane S. Srivastava, second author and professor in the Department of Zoology at the University of British Columbia.

Cardinale explained that one-third to one-half of all the species on the planet are expected to be lost in the next 100 years, and that currently species are going extinct at thousands of times faster than they have historically. The losses are due to the cutting down of rainforests, development, pollution, and the introduction of exotic species that take over the niches of indigenous species.

"Our study shows that biodiversity matters," said Srivastava. "Ecosystems with more species function better, that is, they are more efficient in moving energy and matter. In practical terms, this means that diverse ecosystems are better at, for example, controlling pests, breaking down organic matter, and absorbing carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas."

As one example, one of the 111 studies included in the analysis reveals the role of species diversity in controlling agricultural pests. That experiment shows the critical importance of the ladybug beetle ---- part of a synergistic "team" of three aphid predators. In this study, Cardinale presented evidence that together, a specific group of predators (the ladybug, the damsel bug, and the parasitic wasp), can reduce the density of aphids, in turn increasing the yield of alfalfa, an economically important crop. His study was performed in Wisconsin and showed that all three natural enemies together reduce the aphids to a greater extent than is predicted from each natural enemy alone. He explained that this service, provided by species diversity, is worth millions of dollars for agriculture in Wisconsin alone, not including the fact that the farmers do not have to spray their alfalfa crops when the three key predator species abound.

Cardinale said, "We now have good evidence that the number and type of species on the planet regulate services that affect humanity. If we value these services, then we need to protect biodiversity."

He explained that it is important to set aside protected areas. For example, marine protected areas, national parks, and ecological reserves can all help to preserve biodiversity. Additionally it is important to consider biological "hot spots," where biodiversity is high. "We could save a lot of species with only small areas, by putting aside hot spots," he said.

Cardinale's varied research interests are tied together by a common thread, which is to understand the causes and consequences of changing biodiversity in the modern era.

The study published in Nature was supported by grants from the National Science Foundation.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California - Santa Barbara. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of California - Santa Barbara. "Biodiversity Controls Ecological 'Services,' Report Scientists In Comprehenisive Analysis." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 November 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/10/061025185158.htm>.
University of California - Santa Barbara. (2006, November 7). Biodiversity Controls Ecological 'Services,' Report Scientists In Comprehenisive Analysis. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/10/061025185158.htm
University of California - Santa Barbara. "Biodiversity Controls Ecological 'Services,' Report Scientists In Comprehenisive Analysis." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/10/061025185158.htm (accessed November 26, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) The US FDA is announcing new calorie rules on Tuesday that will require everywhere from theaters to vending machines to include calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Feast Your Eyes: Lamb Chop Sent Into Space from UK

Feast Your Eyes: Lamb Chop Sent Into Space from UK

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Nov. 25, 2014) Take a stab at this -- stunt video shows a lamb chop's journey from an east London restaurant over 30 kilometers into space. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cambodian Capital's Only Working Elephant to Retire in Jungle

Cambodian Capital's Only Working Elephant to Retire in Jungle

AFP (Nov. 25, 2014) Phnom Penh's only working elephant was blessed by a crowd of chanting Buddhist monks Tuesday as she prepared for a life of comfortable jungle retirement after three decades of giving rides to tourists. Duration: 00:36 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stray Dog Follows Adventure Racing Team for 6-Day Endurance Race

Stray Dog Follows Adventure Racing Team for 6-Day Endurance Race

Buzz60 (Nov. 24, 2014) A Swedish Adventure racing team travels to try and win a world title, but comes home with something way better: a stray dog that joined the team for much of the grueling 430-mile race. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins