Biodiversity-multifunctionality relationships depend on identity and number of measured functions

Sebastian T. Meyer, Robert Ptacnik, Helmut Hillebrand, Holger Bessler, Nina Buchmann, Anne Ebeling, Nico Eisenhauer, Christof Engels, Markus Fischer, Stefan Halle, Alexandra Maria Klein, Yvonne Oelmann, Christiane Roscher, Tanja Rottstock, Christoph Scherber, Stefan Scheu, Bernhard Schmid, Ernst Detlef Schulze, Vicky M. Temperton, Teja TscharntkeWinfried Voigt, Alexandra Weigelt, Wolfgang Wilcke, Wolfgang W. Weisser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

170 Scopus citations


Biodiversity ensures ecosystem functioning and provisioning of ecosystem services, but it remains unclear how biodiversity-ecosystem multifunctionality relationships depend on the identity and number of functions considered. Here, we demonstrate that ecosystem multifunctionality, based on 82 indicator variables of ecosystem functions in a grassland biodiversity experiment, increases strongly with increasing biodiversity. Analysing subsets of functions showed that the effects of biodiversity on multifunctionality were stronger when more functions were included and that the strength of the biodiversity effects depended on the identity of the functions included. Limits to multifunctionality arose from negative correlations among functions and functions that were not correlated with biodiversity. Our findings underline that the management of ecosystems for the protection of biodiversity cannot be replaced by managing for particular ecosystem functions or services and emphasize the need for specific management to protect biodiversity. More plant species from the experimental pool of 60 species contributed to functioning when more functions were considered. An individual contribution to multifunctionality could be demonstrated for only a fraction of the species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)44-49
Number of pages6
JournalNature Ecology and Evolution
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2018


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