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Suttle, Curtis A.
Shurin, Jonathan B.
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Rights / licenseCreative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported
Organisms alter the biotic and abiotic conditions of ecosystems. They can modulate the availability of resources to other species (ecosystem engineering) and shape selection pressures on other organisms (niche construction). Very little is known about how the engineering effects of organisms vary among and within species, and, as a result, the ecosystem consequences of species diversification and phenotypic evolution are poorly understood. Here, using a common gardening experiment, we test whether morphologically similar species and populations of Diaptomidae copepods (Leptodiaptomus ashlandi, Hesperodiaptomus franciscanus, Skistodiaptomus oregonensis) have similar or different effects on the structure and function of freshwater ecosystems. We found that copepod species had contrasting effects on algal biomass, ammonium concentrations, and sedimentation rates, and that copepod populations had contrasting effects on prokaryote abundance, sedimentation rates, and gross primary productivity. The average size of ecosystem-effect contrasts between species was similar to those between populations, and was comparable to those between fish species and populations measured in previous common gardening experiments. Our results suggest that subtle morphological variation among and within species can cause multifarious and divergent ecosystem-effects. We conclude that using morphological trait variation to assess the functional similarity of organisms may underestimate the importance of species and population diversity for ecosystem functioning Show more
Journal / seriesPLoS ONE
Pages / Article No.
PublisherPublic Library of Science
Organisational unit03705 - Jokela, Jukka / Jokela, Jukka
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