Biodiv Sci ›› 2021, Vol. 29 ›› Issue (12): 1673-1686.  DOI: 10.17520/biods.2021111

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Indicator selection and driving factors of ecosystem multifunctionality: Research status and perspectives

Xiaobo Huang1,2, Xuedong Lang1,2, Shuaifeng Li1,2, Wande Liu1,2, Jianrong Su1,2,*()   

  1. 1 Institute of Highland Forest Science, Chinese Academy of Forestry, Kunming 650224
    2 Pu’er Forest Ecosytem Research Station, National Forestry and Grassland Administration, Kunming 650224
  • Received:2021-03-23 Accepted:2021-08-15 Online:2021-12-20 Published:2021-11-12
  • Contact: Jianrong Su
  • Supported by:


Background & Aims: Global change and other human activities are changing biodiversity around the world at an unprecedented rate, which has led to a sharp decline in global biodiversity and productivity, an increase in pests and diseases, and a weakening of the ability to resist invasion and other ecological problems. Ecologists became more and more interested in the question of whether and how the continuous loss of biodiversity would affect ecosystem functioning in the last 30 years. Therefore, the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning (BEF) became one of the hot topics of ecological research. For a long time, researchers have focused more on individual ecosystem functions than on the ability of an ecosystem to provide multiple ecosystem functions at the same time, known as ecosystem multifunctionality (EMF). Considering only individual functions could underestimate the impact of biodiversity on overall ecosystem functioning. Therefore, the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem multifunctionality (BEMF) has become the focus of BEF research field. In order to enrich the understanding of BEMF relationships, this paper focuses on different dimensions of biodiversity and the impact of microbial diversity on EMF, how abiotic factors drive EMF, as well as the selection of functional indicators in the evaluation of EMF.
Progresses: In recent years, the research on BEMF relationships has developed rapidly, expanding from aquatic ecosystems to grasslands, forests, drylands and agricultural ecosystems. Spatial scale ranges from regional scale to global scale. The driving mechanisms of BEMF relationship are explored from single dominant driving mechanism to multiple driving mechanisms. There are also new innovations in research methods and new concepts put forward.
Prospects: However, there are still some shortcomings. For example, there is no unified standard for the selection of functional indicators in EMF research, insufficient attention to microbial diversity, few studies on the BEMF relationship at the multitrophic level, and debate about the mechanisms driving EMF. In the future, it is necessary to strengthen the research on the criteria for the selection of functional indicators, comprehensively analyze the overall impact of aboveground and belowground biodiversity and abiotic factors on EMF, and strengthen the research and application of ecosystem multiserviceability (EMS).

Key words: global change, species loss, species richness, functional diversity, ecosystem multifunctionality