Biodiversity and Ecosystem Function (Ecological Studies #99) (Paperback)
Springer, 9783540581031, 525pp.
Publication Date: July 26, 1994
List Price: 79.99*
* Individual store prices may vary.
The biota of the earth is being altered at an unprecedented rate. We are witnessing wholesale exchanges of organisms among geographic areas that were once totally biologically isolated. We are seeing massive changes in landscape use that are creating even more abundant succes- sional patches, reductions in population sizes, and in the worst cases, losses of species. There are many reasons for concern about these trends. One is that we unfortunately do not know in detail the conse- quences of these massive alterations in terms of how the biosphere as a whole operates or even, for that matter, the functioning of localized ecosystems. We do know that the biosphere interacts strongly with the atmospheric composition, contributing to potential climate change. We also know that changes in vegetative cover greatly influence the hydrology and biochemistry ofa site or region. Our knowledge is weak in important details, however. How are the many services that ecosystems provide to humanity altered by modifications of ecosystem composition? Stated in another way, what is the role of individual species in ecosystem function? We are observing the selective as well as wholesale alteration in the composition of ecosystems. Do these alterations matter in respect to how ecosystems operate and provide services? This book represents the initial probing of this central ques- tion. It will be followed by other volumes in this series examining in depth the functional role of biodiversity in various ecosystems of the world.