An international team of researchers including Dr. Bertrand Boeken of the Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev suggest in a new study that plant biodiversity preservation is crucial to buffer negative effects of climate change and desertification in drylands.
The study titled, "Plant species richness and ecosystem multi-functionality in global drylands", published in the prestigious journal Science is the outcome of a five-year research effort involving more than 50 researchers from 30 institutions in 15 different countries, including Dr. Boeken of the BGU Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research. Dr. Boeken and Dr. Eli Zaady of the Gilat Research Center, the Volcani Institute - Agriculture Research Organization contributed research data from two long-term ecological research sites in the northern Negev.
The results of this study indicate that the ability of ecosystems in drylands worldwide to maintain multiple functions, such as carbon storage and buildup of nutrient pools (multi-functionality) is enhanced by the number of perennial plant species, mainly shrubs and dwarf-shrubs, whereas increased average annual temperature reduces this ability.
While small-scale controlled experiments have provided evidence of the positive relationship between biodiversity and multi-functionality over the years, this study is the first in explicitly evaluating such relationship among real ecosystems at a global scale.
The fieldwork of this study was carried out in 224 dryland ecosystems from all continents except Antarctica, where direct measurements of plant diversity and other biotic and abiotic features of the ecosystem were taken. To assess ecosystem multi-functionality, researchers assessed more than 2,600 soil samples for 14 ecosystem functions related to carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus cycling and storage.
The functions measured deliver some of the fundamental supporting and regulating ecosystem services (e.g. soil fertility and climate regulation), and are also used to identify the onset of desertification processes.
Drylands constitute some of the largest terrestrial biomes, collectively covering 41 percent of earth's land surface and supporting over 38 percent of the global human population. They are of paramount importance for biodiversity, host many endemic plant and animal species, and include about 20 percent of the major centers of global plant diversity and over 30 percent of the designated endemic bird areas. However, dryland ecosystems are also highly vulnerable to global environmental change and desertification. "This study provides empirical evidence on the importance of biodiversity to maintain and improve ecosystem multi-functionality in drylands.
Dr. Boeken says, "Our results also suggest that the increase in average annual temperature predicted by climate change models will reduce the ability of dryland ecosystems to perform multiple functions, which are crucial to support life on earth. Plant biodiversity enhances this ability, therefore, maintaining and restoring it can contribute to mitigating the negative consequences of global warming and to promoting the resistance of natural ecosystems to desertification."
American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev plays a vital role in sustaining David Ben-Gurion's vision, creating a world-class institution of education and research in the Israeli desert, nurturing the Negev community and sharing the University's expertise locally and around the globe. With some 20,000 students on campuses in Beer-Sheva, Sede Boqer and Eilat in Israel's southern desert, BGU is a university with a conscience, where the highest academic standards are integrated with community involvement, committed to sustainable development of the Negev. For more information, please visit http://www.aabgu.org
Andrew Lavin | EurekAlert!
Dispersal of Fish Eggs by Water Birds – Just a Myth?
19.02.2018 | Universität Basel
Removing fossil fuel subsidies will not reduce CO2 emissions as much as hoped
08.02.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, is a widely used medical tool for taking pictures of the insides of our body. One way to make MRI scans easier to read is...
At the Hannover Messe 2018, the Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und-prüfung (BAM) will show how, in the future, astronauts could produce their own tools or spare parts in zero gravity using 3D printing. This will reduce, weight and transport costs for space missions. Visitors can experience the innovative additive manufacturing process live at the fair.
Powder-based additive manufacturing in zero gravity is the name of the project in which a component is produced by applying metallic powder layers and then...
Physicists at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics, which is jointly run by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, have developed a high-power laser system that generates ultrashort pulses of light covering a large share of the mid-infrared spectrum. The researchers envisage a wide range of applications for the technology – in the early diagnosis of cancer, for instance.
Molecules are the building blocks of life. Like all other organisms, we are made of them. They control our biorhythm, and they can also reflect our state of...
University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.
Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.
Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.
Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
09.04.2018 | Event News
26.04.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering
26.04.2018 | Life Sciences
26.04.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering