Upscaling biodiversity-ecosystem function relationships in real-world landscapes
Biodiversity-Ecosystem Function (BEF) research has typically focussed on local scale relationships between biodiversity and ecosystem function in experimental communities. However, the role of spatial dynamics of biodiversity within ‘real world’ landscapes is rarely considered for most ecosystem functions.
This project will test the hypothesisthat the ecosystem functioning of a grassland plot is higher for any given level of land use intensity when it is embedded within a biodiverse landscape. This is due to two mechanisms: a) faster recovery of plot biodiversity following disturbances (e.g. mowing) as a result of greater recolonisation, and b) the spillover of motile ecosystem service providers (e.g., from pollinators) from more diverse surrounding areas. These hypotheses will be tested by synthesising existing data with new data gathered from biodiversity survey of the areas surrounding the grassland experimental plots of the Biodiversity Exploratories.
The effect of other landscape features (e.g., landscape connectivity and surrounding land use intensity and functional composition) will also be studied. The models obtained from testing these hypotheses will then be used to upscale biodiversity-ecosystem function relationships to the landscape scale, employing a combination of geographic information systems and statistical simulations. This will allow us to estimate the impact of changes to the spatial configuration of diversity and land-use intensity within the landscape. In turn, this will allow us to identify new management strategies that promote landscape multifunctionality and predict the landscape level impacts of future management change, such as further intensification or the restoration of biodiversity.