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The diversity of benthic diatoms affects ecosystem productivity in heterogeneous coastal environments
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Number of Authors: 72019 (English)In: Ecology, ISSN 0012-9658, E-ISSN 1939-9170Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

The current decrease in biodiversity affects all ecosystems, and the impacts of diversity on ecosystem functioning need to be resolved. So far, marine studies about diversity-ecosystem productivity-relationships have concentrated on small-scale, controlled experiments, with often limited relevance to natural ecosystems. Here, we provide a real-world study on the effects of microorganismal diversity (measured as the diversity of benthic diatom communities) on ecosystem productivity (using chlorophyll a concentration as a surrogate) in a heterogeneous marine coastal archipelago. We collected 78 sediment cores at 17 sites in the northern Baltic Sea and found exceptionally high diatom diversity (328 observed species). We used structural equation models and quantile regression to explore relationships between diatom diversity and productivity. Previous studies have found contradictory results in the relationship between microorganismal diversity and ecosystem productivity, but we showed a linear and positive basal relationship between diatom diversity and productivity, which indicates that diatom diversity most likely forms the lowest boundary for productivity. Thus, although productivity can be high even when diatom diversity is low, high diatom diversity supports high productivity. The trait composition was more effective than taxonomical composition in showing such a relationship, which could be due to niche complementarity. Our results also indicated that environmental heterogeneity leads to substantial patchiness in the diversity of benthic diatom communities, mainly induced by the variation in sediment organic matter content. Therefore, future changes in precipitation and river runoff and associated changes in the quality and quantity of organic matter in the sea, will also affect diatom communities and, hence, ecosystem productivity. Our study suggests that benthic microorganisms are vital for ecosystem productivity, and together with the substantial heterogeneity of coastal ecosystems, they should be considered when evaluating the potential productivity of coastal areas.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019.
Keywords [en]
Baltic Sea, benthic diatoms, diversity-ecosystem productivity-relationship, microphytobenthos, niche complementarity, organic matter, quantile regression models, spatial heterogeneity, structural equation models
National Category
Biological Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-171760DOI: 10.1002/ecy.2765ISI: 000477538800001PubMedID: 31162636OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-171760DiVA, id: diva2:1348521
Available from: 2019-09-04 Created: 2019-09-04 Last updated: 2019-09-04

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Norkko, Alf
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Stockholm University Baltic Sea Centre
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