Though it has long been known by scientists that an ecosystem needs different kinds of plants and animals for optimal functioning, University of Georgia scientists have recently found that the genetic diversity of species within a habitat also affects ecosystem processes.
"It is not just the quantity of species diversity that matters, it is also the quality of genetic diversity," said lead author Mike Madritch, an ecology doctoral student at UGA. Madritch studied carbon and nitrogen fluxes during decomposition of leaf litter and found a significant link between nutrient output and the genetic variation of the leaves.
The study was co-authored with Mark Hunter, associate professor of ecology at UGA, and published this week in the Ecological Society of Americas journal, Ecology. The research was funded by the National Science Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Kim Carlyle | EurekAlert!
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