Biodiversity And Response To Disturbances

Human activities are causing a diverse array of disturbances in natural ecosystems. among which are increasing levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, acid precipitation, changing global climates, increasing fragmentation of habitats and introduction of species into regions where they were previously absent. Given these and other large-scale changes to tropical and nontropical systems, links between components of biodiversity and the ability of ecosystems to withstand and recover from such alterations are particularly important. As touched on by Silver et al. (1996) and Denslow (1996), such links may exist because redundancy within functional groups is only partial. Taxa within the same functional group are, by definition, similar in terms of the types of ecosystem-level effects they cause, but they may differ strikingly in terms of their responses to natural or human-caused perturbations. Combinations of similarities in ecosystems effects with differences in responses to perturbations provide buffering of functional properties of ecosystems during present and future periods of alterations to ecological systems.

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