Larger Area Facilitates Richness-Function Effects in Experimental Microcosms.
Species-area relationships (SAR) and biodiversity-ecosystem function (BEF) relationships are central patterns in community ecology. Although research on both patterns often invokes mechanisms of community assembly, both SARs and BEFs are generally treated as separate phenomena. Here we link the two by creating an experimental SAR in microcosm communities and show that greater species richness in larger areas is accompanied by greater ecosystem function. We then explore mechanisms of community assembly by determining whether rare, large, or high-biomass species are more likely to persist in the larger microcosms. Our results indicate that larger areas harbor more rare species of a wider range of body sizes and have higher functional diversity, implying that the addition of niche space that supports rare species underlies the effect of area on species richness and function. Our results suggest that the preservation of large areas is a potentially useful way of maximizing the provisioning of ecosystem services through the maintenance of biodiversity.
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