The effect of genetic diversity on ecosystem functioning in vegetated coastal ecosystems

A1 Journal article (refereed)


Internal Authors/Editors


Publication Details

List of Authors: Tiina Salo, Camilla Gustafsson
Publisher: Springer
Publication year: 2016
Journal: Ecosystems
Volume number: 19
Issue number: 8
Start page: 1429
End page: 1444
eISSN: 1435-0629


Abstract

In species-poor communities, genetic diversity
potentially plays an important role for ecosystem
functioning, though this is still largely unexplored
in marine and estuarine ecosystems. We studied
how genetic diversity (sensu genotypic diversity
and/or allelic richness) affects ecosystem functioning
in marine habitat-forming plant communities.
First, we conducted a 15-month field experiment in
the highly seasonal Baltic Sea and established
mono- and polycultures of different genotypes and
genotype combinations of Zostera marina. Second,
we reviewed existing literature and performed a
meta-analysis of 12 studies including this study. We
found no evidence of positive genetic diversity effects
on shoot production in the field experiment,
but diversity enhanced community stability over
time. The literature review revealed that a majority
of the included studies observed positive effects of
genetic diversity on ecosystem functions such as
primary production and nutrient uptake. The results
from the meta-analysis support the hypothesis
that genetic diversity effects on productivity are
stronger during or after periods of stress. These
diversity effects were also more positive in the field
compared to mesocosm studies. Our results indicate
that genetic diversity has positive effects on
ecosystem functioning, particularly during increased
environmental stress. Thus, local genetic
diversity should be preserved especially in speciespoor
ecosystems, where it potentially provides
insurance against environmental change.
In species-poor communities, genetic diversity potentially plays an important role for ecosystem functioning, though this is still largely unexplored in marine and estuarine ecosystems. We studied how genetic diversity (sensu genotypic diversity and/or allelic richness) affects ecosystem functioning in marine habitat-forming plant communities. First, we conducted a 15-month field experiment in the highly seasonal Baltic Sea and established mono- and polycultures of different genotypes and genotype combinations of Zostera marina. Second, we reviewed existing literature and performed a meta-analysis of 12 studies including this study. We found no evidence of positive genetic diversity effects on shoot production in the field experiment, but diversity enhanced community stability over time. The literature review revealed that a majority of the included studies observed positive effects of genetic diversity on ecosystem functions such as primary production and nutrient uptake. The results from the meta-analysis support the hypothesis that genetic diversity effects on productivity are stronger during or after periods of stress. These diversity effects were also more positive in the field compared to mesocosm studies. Our results indicate
that genetic diversity has positive effects on ecosystem functioning, particularly during increased environmental stress. Thus, local genetic diversity should be preserved especially in speciespoor ecosystems, where it potentially provides insurance against environmental change.


Keywords

environmental stress

Last updated on 2019-14-11 at 04:58