The ecological importance of understory herbaceous plants
- Author(s): Clement, Chris
- Date: 2001
- Source: The Effects of Land-Use change on the biodiversity of the Highlands Plateau: A Carolina Environmental Program Report: 32-42
- Station ID: --
Maintenance of species diversity is of major interest to both land managers and the scientific community. For nearly half a century, ecologists have debated the attributes of species diversity. Ecologists in the early 1960s proposed several hypotheses regarding the importance of species diversity in maintaining ecosystem integrig2, but very little research has been conducted to evaluate the functional importance of a diverse ecosystem Despite the lack of consensus by the scientific community on this issue, the commonly held belief among non-scientists seems to be that high species diversity directly corresponds with efficient ecosystem processes and high ecosystem stability. There may be some truth in this statement, but species poor ecosystems are not always inefficient and unstable. Some of the world's most extensive and ancient ecosystems, such as boreal forests, bogs, and heath lands, all typically have relatively low species richnesses Therefore, such generalizations about the functional role of biodiversity remain flawed and are in need of further examination. Thus, concrete knowledge of the functional role of diversity is a crucial area of study and is important for understanding the importance of biodiversity and evaluating how changes in vegetation impact ecosystem processes (e.g. net primary productivity).
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