Genetic Diversity and Ecosystem Functioning in the Face of Multiple Stressors

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Abstract

Species diversity is important for a range of ecosystem processes and properties, including the resistance to single and multiple stressors. It has been suggested that genetic diversity may play a similar role, but empirical evidence is still relatively scarce. Here, we report the results of a microcosm experiment where four strains of the marine diatom Skeletonema marinoi were grown in monoculture and in mixture under a factorial combination of temperature and salinity stress. The strains differed in their susceptibility to the two stressors and no strain was able to survive both stressors simultaneously. Strong competition between the genotypes resulted in the dominance of one strain under both control and salinity stress conditions. The overall productivity of the mixture, however, was not related to the dominance of this strain, but was instead dependent on the treatment; under control conditions we observed a positive effect of genetic richness, whereas a negative effect was observed in the stress treatments. This suggests that interactions among the strains can be both positive and negative, depending on the abiotic environment. Our results provide additional evidence that the biodiversity-ecosystem functioning relationship is also relevant at the level of genetic diversity. © 2012 Roger et al.

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Roger, F., Godhe, A., & Gamfeldt, L. (2012). Genetic Diversity and Ecosystem Functioning in the Face of Multiple Stressors. PLoS ONE, 7(9). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0045007

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