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Consequences of changing biodiversity

Abstract

Human alteration of the global environment has triggered the sixth major extinction event in the history of life and caused widespread changes in the global distribution of organisms. These changes in biodiversity alter ecosystem processes and change the resilience of ecosystems to environmental change. This has profound consequences for services that humans derive from ecosystems. The large ecological and societal consequences of changing biodiversity should be minimized to preserve options for future solutions to global environmental problems.

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Figure 1: The role of biodiversity in global change.
Figure 2
Figure 3: Scenarios of change in species diversity in selected biomes by the year 2100.
Figure 4: Mechanisms by which species traits affect ecosystem processes.
Figure 5: Mechanisms by which species interactions affect ecosystem processes.
Figure 6: Trophic interactions can affect ecosystem processes by influencing species' abundances.
Figure 7: Water losses to the invasive, deep-rooted star thistle, C. solstitialis , provides an example of the financial impacts of introducing exotic species on ecosystem composition.
Figure 8: Ecosystem and societal consequences of changes in biodiversity.

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Acknowledgements

We thank B. R. Tershy for valuable inputs and J. D. Gerlach for access to his unpublished manuscript.

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Correspondence to F. Stuart Chapin III.

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Chapin III, F., Zavaleta, E., Eviner, V. et al. Consequences of changing biodiversity. Nature 405, 234–242 (2000). https://doi.org/10.1038/35012241

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