Diversity–interaction modeling: estimating contributions of species identities and interactions to ecosystem function
Finn, John A.
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We develop a modeling framework that estimates the effects of species identity and diversity on ecosystem function and permits prediction of the diversity–function relationship across different types of community composition. Rather than just measure an overall effect of diversity, we separately estimate the contributions of different species interactions. This is especially important when both positive and negative interactions occur or where there are patterns in the interactions. Based on different biological assumptions, we can test for different patterns of interaction that correspond to the roles of evenness, functional groups, and functional redundancy. These more parsimonious descriptions can be especially useful in identifying general diversity–function relationships in communities with large numbers of species. We provide an example of the application of the modeling framework. These models describe community-level performance and thus do not require separate measurement of the performance of individual species. This flexible modeling approach can be tailored to test many hypotheses in biodiversity research and can suggest the interaction mechanisms that may be acting.