UWB Crest

BangorDIVERSE: Forest Diversity and Ecosystem Function

Background to BangorDIVERSE

Birch after thinning

Forests provide many ecosystem services to humankind that include, but are not limited to, flood defences, carbon sequestration and the provision of fresh water.  Historically, and for logistical reasons, much of the research investigating species diversity, ecosystem functioning and productivity has been conducted in the laboratory or grassland field trials (Tilman et al., 1996; Hooper et al., 2005).  Recent research has shown that species rich ecosystems have a decreased mean of many ecological process rates (Cardinale et al., 2011), yet can also be more productive and interact antagonistically with global change drivers (Smith et al., 2013).

Ecological theory suggests that high diversity should also provide greater resilience and stability to the provision of ecosystem services whilst under the influence of global change. Recent data has shown species diversity loss to be a major driver of global ecosystem change (Hooper et al., 2012) highlighting an urgent need for research into forest diversity and ecosystem function.


  • Cardinale B.J., Matulich K.L., Hooper D.U., Byrnes J.E., Duffy E., Gamfeldt L., Balvanera P., O'Connor M.I. & Gonzalez A. (2011). The functional role of producer diversity in ecosystems. American Journal of Botany, 98, 572-592.
  • Hooper D.U., Chapin F.S., Ewel J.J., Hector A., Inchausti P., Lavorel S., Lawton J.H., Lodge D.M., Loreau M., Naeem S., Schmid B., Setala H., Symstad A.J., Vandermeer J., Wardle D.A. (2005). Effects of biodiversity on ecosystem functioning: a consensus of current knowledge. Ecological Monographs ,75, 3-35.
  • Hooper D.U., Adair E.C., Cardinale B.J., Byrnes J.E.K., Hungate B.A., Matulich K.L., Gonzalez A., Duffy J.E., Gamfeldt L. & O/'Connor M.I. (2012). A global synthesis reveals biodiversity loss as a major driver of ecosystem change. Nature, 486, 105-108.
  • Smith A.R., Lukac M., Bambrick M., Miglietta F., Godbold D.L. (2013) Tree species diversity interacts with elevated CO2 to induce a greater root system response. Global Change Biology, 19, 217-228.
  • Tilman D., Wedin D., Knops J. (1996) Productivity and sustainability influenced by biodiversity in grassland ecosystems. Nature, 379, 718-720.