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Are ecosystem services stabilized by differences among species? A test using crop pollination

By Rachael Winfree and Claire Kremen


Biological diversity could enhance ecosystem service provision by increasing the mean level of services provided, and/or by providing more consistent (stable) services over space and time. Ecological theory predicts that when an ecosystem service is provided by many species, it will be stabilized against disturbance by a variety of ‘stabilizing mechanisms.’ However, few studies have investigated whether stabilizing mechanisms occur in real landscapes affected by human disturbance. We used two datasets on crop pollination by wild native bees to screen for and differentiate among three stabilizing mechanisms: density compensation (negative co-variance among species' abundances); response diversity (differential response to environmental variables among species); and cross-scale resilience (response to the same environmental variable at different scales by different species). In both datasets, we found response diversity and cross-scale resilience, but not density compensation. We conclude that stabilizing mechanisms may contribute to the stability of pollination services in our study areas, emphasizing the insurance value of seemingly ‘redundant’ species. Furthermore, the absence of density compensation that we found at the landscape scale contrasts with findings of previous small-scale experimental and modelling work, suggesting that we should not assume that density compensation will stabilize ecosystem services in real landscapes

Topics: Research Article
Publisher: The Royal Society
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Provided by: PubMed Central
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