Letter | Published:

Consumer versus resource control of species diversity and ecosystem functioning

Naturevolume 417pages848851 (2002) | Download Citation

Subjects

Abstract

A key question in ecology is which factors control species diversity in a community1,2,3. Two largely separate groups of ecologists have emphasized the importance of productivity or resource supply, and consumers or physical disturbance, respectively. These variables show unimodal relationships with diversity when manipulated in isolation4,5,6,7,8. Recent multivariate models9,10, however, predict that these factors interact, such that the disturbance–diversity relationship depends on productivity, and vice versa. We tested these models in marine food webs, using field manipulations of nutrient resources and consumer pressure on rocky shores of contrasting productivity. Here we show that the effects of consumers and nutrients on diversity consistently depend on each other, and that the direction of their effects and peak diversity shift between sites of low and high productivity. Factorial meta-analysis of published experiments confirms these results across widely varying aquatic communities. Furthermore, our experiments demonstrate that these patterns extend to important ecosystem functions such as carbon storage and nitrogen retention. This suggests that human impacts on nutrient supply11 and food-web structure12,13 have strong and interdependent effects on species diversity and ecosystem functioning, and must therefore be managed together.

Access optionsAccess options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

References

  1. 1

    Hutchinson, G. E. Homage to Santa Rosalia, or why are there so many kinds of animals. Am. Nat. 93, 145–159 (1959)

  2. 2

    Tilman, D. Causes, consequences and ethics of biodiversity. Nature 405, 208–211 (2000)

  3. 3

    Sommer, U. & Worm, B. (eds) Competition and Coexistence (Springer, Berlin, 2002)

  4. 4

    Connell, J. H. Diversity in tropical rain forests and coral reefs. Science 199, 1302–1310 (1978)

  5. 5

    Tilman, D. Resource Competition and Community Structure (Princeton Univ. Press, Princeton, 1982)

  6. 6

    Flöder, S. & Sommer, U. Diversity in planktonic communities: an experimental test of the intermediate disturbance hypothesis. Limnol. Oceanogr. 44, 1114–1119 (1999)

  7. 7

    Buckling, A., Kassen, R., Bell, G. & Rainey, P. B. Disturbance and diversity in experimental microcosms. Nature 408, 961–964 (2000)

  8. 8

    Kassen, R., Buckling, A., Bell, G. & Rainey, P. B. Diversity peaks at intermediate productivity in laboratory microcosms. Nature 406, 508–512 (2000)

  9. 9

    Huston, M. A. Biological Diversity (Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge, 1994)

  10. 10

    Kondoh, M. Unifying the relationships of species richness to productivity and disturbance. Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B 268, 269–271 (2001)

  11. 11

    Vitousek, P. M. et al. Human alteration of the global nitrogen cycle: sources and consequences. Ecol. Appl. 7, 737–750 (1997)

  12. 12

    Pauly, D., Christensen, V., Dalsgaard, J., Froese, R. & Torres, F. Jr Fishing down marine food webs. Science 279, 860–863 (1998)

  13. 13

    Jackson, J. B. C. et al. Historical overfishing and the recent collapse of coastal ecosystems. Science 293, 629–638 (2001)

  14. 14

    Tilman, D. Competition and biodiversity in spatially structured habitats. Ecology 75, 2–16 (1994)

  15. 15

    Mann, K. H. Seaweeds: their productivity and strategy for growth. Science 182, 975–981 (1973)

  16. 16

    Nielsen, K. J. Bottom-up and top-down forces in tide pools: test of a food chain model in an intertidal community. Ecol. Monogr. 71, 187–217 (2001)

  17. 17

    Menge, B. A. & Sutherland, J. P. Community regulation: variation in disturbance, competition, and predation in relation to environmental stress and recruitment. Am. Nat. 130, 730–757 (1987)

  18. 18

    Sorokin, Y. I. Coral Reef Ecology (Springer, Berlin, 1995)

  19. 19

    Worm, B., Lotze, H. K. & Sommer, U. Coastal food web structure, carbon storage and nitrogen retention regulated by consumer pressure and nutrient loading. Limnol. Oceanogr. 45, 339–349 (2000)

  20. 20

    Chapin, F. S. III et al. Consequences of changing biodiversity. Nature 405, 234–242 (2000)

  21. 21

    Gurevitch, J., Morrison, J. A. & Hedges, L. V. The interaction between competition and predation: a meta-analysis of field experiments. Am. Nat. 155, 435–453 (2000)

  22. 22

    Terborgh, J. et al. Ecological meltdown in predator-free forest fragments. Science 294, 1923–1925 (2001)

  23. 23

    Watling, L. & Norse, E. A. Disturbance of the seabed by mobile fishing gear: a comparison to forest clearcutting. Conserv. Biol. 12, 1180–1197 (1998)

  24. 24

    Lotze, H. K., Worm, B. & Sommer, U. Strong bottom-up and top-down control of early life stages of macroalgae. Limnol. Oceanogr. 46, 749–757 (2001)

  25. 25

    Worm, B., Reusch, T. B. H. & Lotze, H. K. In situ nutrient enrichment: methods for marine benthic ecology. Internat. Rev. Hydrobiol. 85, 359–375 (2000)

  26. 26

    Stirling, G. & Wilsey, B. Empirical relationships between species richness, evenness, and proportional diversity. Am. Nat. 158, 286–299 (2001)

  27. 27

    Hillebrand, H., Worm, B. & Lotze, H. K. Marine microbenthic community structure regulated by nitrogen loading and herbivore pressure. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 204, 27–38 (2000)

  28. 28

    Hillebrand, H. & Kahlert, M. Effect of grazing and nutrient supply on periphyton biomass and nutrient stoichiometry in habitats of different productivity. Limnol. Oceanogr. 46, 1881–1898 (2001)

  29. 29

    Gough, L. & Grace, J. B. Herbivore effects on plant species density at varying productivity levels. Ecology 79, 1586–1594 (1998)

  30. 30

    Proulx, M., Pick, F. R., Mazumder, A., Hamilton, P. B. & Lean, D. R. S. Experimental evidence for interactive impacts of human activities on lake algal species richness. Oikos 76, 191–195 (1996)

Download references

Acknowledgements

We thank L. Gough, R. Karez, D. Kehler, I. Milewski, R. A. Myers, R. T. Paine and T. B. H. Reusch for comments, and J. Gurevitch for statistical advice. This work was funded by the German Research Council (DFG) and the German Ministry of Science and Education.

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Biology Department, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, B3H 4J1, Canada

    • Boris Worm
    •  & Heike K. Lotze
  2. Section of Marine Ecology, Institute for Marine Science, Kiel University, Düsternbrooker Weg 20, 24105, Kiel, Germany

    • Boris Worm
    • , Heike K. Lotze
    •  & Ulrich Sommer
  3. Erken Laboratory, Department of Limnology, Uppsala University, Norr Malma 4200, 76173, Norrtälje, Sweden

    • Helmut Hillebrand

Authors

  1. Search for Boris Worm in:

  2. Search for Heike K. Lotze in:

  3. Search for Helmut Hillebrand in:

  4. Search for Ulrich Sommer in:

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Boris Worm.

About this article

Publication history

Received

Accepted

Issue Date

DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nature00830

Further reading

  • Resource heterogeneity structures aquatic bacterial communities

    • Mario E. Muscarella
    • , Claudia M. Boot
    • , Corey D. Broeckling
    •  & Jay T. Lennon

    The ISME Journal (2019)

  • Context-dependent interactions and the regulation of species richness in freshwater fish

    • Andrew S. MacDougall
    • , Eric Harvey
    • , Jenny L. McCune
    • , Karin A. Nilsson
    • , Joseph Bennett
    • , Jennifer Firn
    • , Timothy Bartley
    • , James B. Grace
    • , Jocelyn Kelly
    • , Tyler D. Tunney
    • , Bailey McMeans
    • , Shin-Ichiro S. Matsuzaki
    • , Taku Kadoya
    • , Ellen Esch
    • , Kevin Cazelles
    • , Nigel Lester
    •  & Kevin S. McCann

    Nature Communications (2018)

  • Nutrient Fluctuations in Marine Systems: Press Versus Pulse Nutrient Subsidies Affect Producer Competition and Diversity in Estuaries and Coral Reefs

    • Caitlin R. Fong
    •  & Peggy Fong

    Estuaries and Coasts (2018)

  • Change in dominance determines herbivore effects on plant biodiversity

    • Sally E. Koerner
    • , Melinda D. Smith
    • , Deron E. Burkepile
    • , Niall P. Hanan
    • , Meghan L. Avolio
    • , Scott L. Collins
    • , Alan K. Knapp
    • , Nathan P. Lemoine
    • , Elisabeth J. Forrestel
    • , Stephanie Eby
    • , Dave I. Thompson
    • , Gerardo A. Aguado-Santacruz
    • , John P. Anderson
    • , T. Michael Anderson
    • , Ayana Angassa
    • , Sumanta Bagchi
    • , Elisabeth S. Bakker
    • , Gary Bastin
    • , Lauren E. Baur
    • , Karen H. Beard
    • , Erik A. Beever
    • , Patrick J. Bohlen
    • , Elizabeth H. Boughton
    • , Don Canestro
    • , Ariela Cesa
    • , Enrique Chaneton
    • , Jimin Cheng
    • , Carla M. D’Antonio
    • , Claire Deleglise
    • , Fadiala Dembélé
    • , Josh Dorrough
    • , David J. Eldridge
    • , Barbara Fernandez-Going
    • , Silvia Fernández-Lugo
    • , Lauchlan H. Fraser
    • , Bill Freedman
    • , Gonzalo García-Salgado
    • , Jacob R. Goheen
    • , Liang Guo
    • , Sean Husheer
    • , Moussa Karembé
    • , Johannes M. H. Knops
    • , Tineke Kraaij
    • , Andrew Kulmatiski
    • , Minna-Maarit Kytöviita
    • , Felipe Lezama
    • , Gregory Loucougaray
    • , Alejandro Loydi
    • , Dan G. Milchunas
    • , Suzanne J. Milton
    • , John W. Morgan
    • , Claire Moxham
    • , Kyle C. Nehring
    • , Han Olff
    • , Todd M. Palmer
    • , Salvador Rebollo
    • , Corinna Riginos
    • , Anita C. Risch
    • , Marta Rueda
    • , Mahesh Sankaran
    • , Takehiro Sasaki
    • , Kathryn A. Schoenecker
    • , Nick L. Schultz
    • , Martin Schütz
    • , Angelika Schwabe
    • , Frances Siebert
    • , Christian Smit
    • , Karen A. Stahlheber
    • , Christian Storm
    • , Dustin J. Strong
    • , Jishuai Su
    • , Yadugiri V. Tiruvaimozhi
    • , Claudia Tyler
    • , James Val
    • , Martijn L. Vandegehuchte
    • , Kari E. Veblen
    • , Lance T. Vermeire
    • , David Ward
    • , Jianshuang Wu
    • , Truman P. Young
    • , Qiang Yu
    •  & Tamara Jane Zelikova

    Nature Ecology & Evolution (2018)

  • Consumer species richness and nutrients interact in determining producer diversity

    • Sophie Groendahl
    •  & Patrick Fink

    Scientific Reports (2017)

Comments

By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.