Long term research by German ecologists proves that loss of biodiversity has “direct, unpleasant consequences for mankind.”
Two days ago, C&C published a reply to a biology professor who shrugged off species extinction as unimportant because evolution will replace the lost organisms. This report, adapted from a Technical University of Munich news release, thoroughly confirms our view that he was dead wrong.
How serious is the loss of species globally? Are material cycles in an ecosystem with few species changed? In order to find this out, the “Jena Experiment” was established in 2002, one of the largest biodiversity experiments worldwide. Professor Wolfgang Weisser from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) reports on two unexpected findings of the long-term study: Biodiversity influences almost half the processes in the ecosystem, and intensive grassland management does not result in higher yields than high biodiversity.
An ecosystem provides humans with natural “services”, such as the fertility of the soil, the quality of the groundwater, the production of food, and pollination by insects, which is essential for many fruits. Hence, intact ecosystems are crucial for the survival of all living things. What functional significance therefore does the extinction of species have? Can the global loss of species ultimately lead to the poorer “functioning” of ecosystems? Professor Weisser from the Chair for Terrestrial Ecology at the TUM has summarized the findings of the long-term “Jena Experiment” in a 70-page article in the journal Basic and Applied Ecology.
“One unique aspect of the Jena Experiment is the fact that we performed our experiments and analyses over 15 years”, explains Prof. Weisser. “Because the influence of biodiversity is only visible after a delay, we were only able to observe certain effects from 2006 or 2007 onwards — i.e. four or five years after the beginning of the project.”
…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…